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Tesla factories: Where they’re based – and Elon Musk’s gigantic gigafactory vision

In a show of enormous faith in the increasing demand for electric vehicles, Elon Musk has been announcing new Tesla factories left, right and centre for the past few years. We break down the details of the existing, upcoming and rumoured plants

Fully autonomous vehicles, half a million electric cars rolling out per plant each year and the biggest building in the world: Elon Musk’s plans for future new Tesla factories are ambitious to say the least.

Far from keeping his cards close to his chest, the 47-year-old has been vocal about his aim to add new production sites in Nevada, Shanghai and potentially Europe to supplement the company’s existing factory in California.

With construction on these facilities set to last over much of the next decade, at least, and costing billions collectively, he will be hoping the Silicon Valley company’s investment is worth the effort.

In light of Musk’s gamble, we take a look at the numbers behind the existing and planned Tesla factories across the globe.

 

Tesla factories: Fremont, California

Located in Fremont, California, the Tesla Factory, as it’s known, is the electric vehicle manufacturer‘s only fully operational plant in the world today.

It currently comprises 5.3 million sq ft of manufacturing and office space on 370 acres of land, but will almost double in size and create thousands of new jobs in the coming years following the City of Fremont’s approval of its expansion plans.

tesla factories
The Tesla Model S

Tesla purchased the facility in 2010 and extensively remodelled it, adding skylights to provide workers with natural light and painting the floors with white epoxy to create a clean work environment.

The first vehicle rolled off the production line in June 2012, the Model S – a saloon that can seat seven passengers due to having two spaces in the car boot for children.

By the end of this year, Tesla plans to have 500,000 cars coming out of the factory and to fully automate its manufacturing system to make this happen, having already increased the production rate at the Fremont factory by 400% since its launch.

 

Tesla factories: Reno, Nevada

Tesla broke ground for its Nevada-based factory in June 2014 but does not yet have a completion date for what the company expects to be the largest building the world by footprint at 5.8 million sq ft – the same as 101 American football fields.

Part of it is already operational, however, and serves to provide battery cells and packs critical to vehicle production. By the end of 2018, the company plans to produce 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of lithium-ion battery cells a year at the facility, almost as much as the rest of the world combined.

To balance the rapid evolution of tech and the comparatively slow construction of the gigafactory, the production line is being made as flexible as possible to cope with changes in battery technology and architecture.

Tesla factories
Tesla factories: Artist’s impression of the planned gigafactory in Nevada

Nevada state law requires factory workforces to comprise at least 50% Nevadans, a target which Tesla currently exceeds with 63% of the construction team and 96% of the employee team being local residents.

Once complete, the company plans to employee 10,000 people and expects to create between 20,000 to 30,000 indirect jobs in surrounding regions.

It is designed to be a zero energy facility, consuming no fossil fuels and using electric sources to power the back-up emergency generators.

The entirety of the roof will be covered in a solar array and any power not consumed during the day will be stored in powerpacks for use when needed.

Tesla factories: Shanghai, China

Tesla signed a co-operative agreement with the Shanghai municipal government on 10 July to build a gigafactory in the biggest electric vehicle market in the world, China.

Construction has yet to begin and the company expects it will be a while before the project – reportedly receiving $5bn (£3.9bn) worth of investment – is officially complete.

It said in a statement: “We expect construction to begin in the near future, after we get all the necessary approvals and permits.

“From there, it will take roughly two years until we start producing vehicles and then another two to three years before the factory is fully ramped up to produce around 500,000 vehicles per year for Chinese customers.”

In light of the ongoing trade war between the US and China, building a factory in the Far East will help Musk avoid hefty tariffs on certain materials required to produce electric vehicles.

 

Tesla factories: Europe

While a fourth Tesla factory has been confirmed and will be built in Europe, no specific location within the continent has been set, athough Germany looks to be the most likely judging by a Musk tweet from June.

The facility will reportedly produce both vehicles and batteries, but very little concrete information has been released regarding its construction plans.


Analysts have predicted it could boost Europe’s battery market to about 250bn euros by 2025.

Although the company doesn’t have any factories in the continent, the headquarters for its engineering subsidiary Tesla Grohmann Automation is in Pruem, Germany.