Tesla battery gigafactory site, Reno, Nevada, Feb 25, 2015 [photo: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Bob Tregilus]Enlarge Photo
Tesla claims that its lithium-ion cell "Gigafactory"--currently under construction just outside Reno, Nevada--will be the largest of its kind in the world.
But could the factory turn out to grow even larger than originally planned?
According to recent reports, Tesla has purchased additional adjacent land that could dramatically expand the battery plant's footprint.
The germ of that report is a presentation given by Dean Haymore of the Storey County Commission at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (see 30-minute video below).
Storey County includes Reno, home of the Gigafactory.
Tesla gigafactory as photographed by drone, May 17, 2015 [screen capture from YouTube video]Enlarge Photo
Haymore said the Gigafactory was originally supposed to consist of four modular "blocks," but that Tesla is now planning to build seven.
He also said that the enlargement will bring the Gigafactory's total size up to 24 million square feet.
If that turns out to be true, the Gigafactory could become the world's largest building in terms of footprint.
Tesla Motors hasn't confirmed any of this, although CEO Elon Musk did mention the possibility of Gigafactory expansion during the company's last quarterly earnings call.
Part of that call was devoted to what Musk termed incredible demand for the company's recently-announced home and commercial energy-storage products, including the PowerWall intended for the home.
Musk suggested that deposits taken to date had already accounted for the first year's anticipated production, meaning that a much larger proportion of the lithium-ion cell fabrication at the gigafactory could go toward energy storage than originally planned.
Rendering of Tesla battery gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada, Sep 2014Enlarge Photo
It's unclear whether any expansion would affect Tesla's previously-discussed plans to begin cell production in time to coincide with the launch of the Model 3 electric car.
Tesla is relying on the economies of scale afforded by such a larger factory to produce cells cheap enough to sell the 200-mile Model 3 at around $35,000, before incentives.
Workers from Panasonic--a Tesla shareholder and collaborator in the Gigafactory project--are expected to begin arriving in Nevada this fall to begin preparations for the installation of equipment.
It's expected that Tesla will also continue to buy cells from Panasonic's factories in Japan, although perhaps the expansion of the Gigafactory will change that.
[hat tip: Tom Moloughney]