Posted on May 01, 2016 by Matt Pressman
A few weeks ago, Tesla Motors [TSLA] announced that it is, "currently ahead of schedule on both construction and production at the Gigafactory." That said, the project remained largely under wraps. However, Tesla just started to open up its Gigafactory doors to the media. Furthermore, this week, Tesla's Gigafactory partner Panasonic [PCRFY] began to reveal more about its participation related to the project. First impressions? Well... in order to successfully introduce the new Model 3 into Tesla's electric vehicle portfolio (see below), the Gigafactory is mission-critical. The pressure is on. But early previews of the Gigafactory look promising.
Above: Tesla Model 3 becomes part of the Tesla family (Reddit: Carravagio4)
First, earlier this week, Automotive News reported that Panasonic: "the Japan-based mega-supplier is helping Tesla Motors build its EV-battery factory in Nevada -- a project that gained a sense of urgency this month when Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced [~400,000] preorders for the Model 3 sedan. Tom Gebhardt, 56, president of Panasonic Automotive Systems Co. of America, spelled out the company's plans."
Above: Tesla Gigafactory construction progress (Source: Daily Mail via Above Reno)
Gebhardt proudly states, "Tesla has established that it's a player with [~400,000] orders for the Model 3. They will require an incredible number of batteries. We have incredible momentum coming off Elon Musk's announcement... That plant supports Tesla's needs, which is credible and positive and growing. Tesla's announcement [of preorders for the Model 3] is as positive as we could have expected."
Above: Tesla Model 3 at the Gigafactory (Source: Motor Trend)
When asked about Panasonic's financial commitment to the Gigafactory, Gebhardt answers: "It's a moving target. Tesla controls it. It's hard to put a percentage on it. We have said we will do what we need to do to assure supply. So is it 20 percent, 30 percent or 40 percent? I don't think you can put your finger on it... [but] we are really starting to build some momentum. We are the overall [lithium-ion battery] leader in that segment, so we're very bullish on electric vehicles and batteries."
Above: Tesla Powerpack batteries at the Gigafactory (Source: Tech Insider via Reddit/Pollywannatho)
And this week, Tesla Motors opened up its Gigafactory doors to Motor Trend. In addition, Tesla co-founder and CTO, JB Straubel, took Lauren Sommer from KQED* on a private tour of the Gigafactory. Sommer reported, "Tesla’s Gigafactory is a lot like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory: it’s mysterious, it’s big and few people have been inside." It turns out Sommer followed up her article with a fascinating video interview about her private tour. This video (see below) offers us deeper insights into the Gigafactory, photo outtakes, and some helpful behind-the-scenes analysis...
Above: Lauren Sommer reveals what the Gigafactory was like after her private tour
Sommer recaps in her article, "Like Willy Wonka’s factory, there’s a lot of hype about this place, both for the records it’s breaking and the company’s mystique... [and] Tesla expects the factory, created in partnership with Panasonic, to double the world’s capacity for lithium-ion battery production, eventually making 35 gigawatt-hours of energy storage annually. That would supply 500,000 of its electric cars, a significant leap over what the company is producing now."
Above: Progress at the Tesla Gigafactory (Source: Daily Mail via Above Reno)
Considering both Panasonic and Tesla are proudly revealing more information publicly now, it's likely a Gigafactory status update is fast-approaching with Wednesday's Tesla [TSLA] earnings conference call. We'll keep you posted.