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Battery Bonanza: Elon Musk goes big at Tesla Gigafactory launch party [Event Recap]
Posted on July 31, 2016 by Matt Pressman
This week we've been covering the Tesla Gigafactory non-stop — including an intimate press event, a comprehensive infographic overview, and even the book Elon Musk is reading right now to inspire him. However, this weekend marked Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] official opening event. Invitees snapped some amazing behind-the-scenes photos and video. And Tesla CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel made some revealing announcements. So, let's recap these exciting new developments and a few secret tidbits from the launch event.
Take a peek at the new (bigger form factor) 20700 lithium-ion battery cell that will be used for the Tesla Model 3, see above. But before we get into the event itself, let's start with some big news that happened before the event even started. Elon Musk took to Twitter to confirm that news outlet Jalopnik was correct when they predicted that Tesla would be working on a VW minibus challenger, Musk tweeted, "Some good guessing by @Jalopnik. The Tesla Minibus will be built on a Model X chassis. People density potential is surprisingly high." And earlier, he had also teased via Twitter about the bus concept, "It's inspired by some of the California Custom VW combi design art."
When Musk and Straubel took the stage they confirmed that future Gigafactories would be built on each continent. Furthermore, Musk noted that future Gigafactories would combine both battery manufacturing and car manufacturing. Musk and Straubel broke down the size of the Gigafactory comparing it to other battery factories, 747 airplanes, and even... ummm, hamsters. This you've got to see. The presentation was jaw-dropping in its boldness, audacity, and ambitious reimagining of the world's automotive and energy paradigm. Check it out below...
Although Musk didn't update the total number of Tesla Model 3 registrations, we did see an intriguing post from an attendee at the Tesla Electric Roadtrip event in Charleston, South Carolina on the same day as the Gigafactory party, reporting separately that: "One speaker noted that the Model 3 was the most pre-sold product ever, and the company was approaching 450,000 reservations - a higher number than officially reported." Could this be a leak from a Tesla representative? Not sure, but intriguing nonetheless. More secretive info — the press wasn't allowed to photograph any of Panasonic's battery machinery during their tours earlier this week, but, it appears that Electrek has gotten hold of a few pics, see below.
Although we're not sure what these machines are for, they certainly look pretty cool. Electrek reports, "Tesla and Panasonic blocked access or stopped the media from taking pictures of parts of the plant... [but] now we finally get our first glimpse of some of those machines – though not all the machines unfortunately, some are still kept secret (top secret)." Furthermore, one attendee filmed a guided tour discussing how the new Panasonic 20700 lithium-ion batteries are made. This video provides fascinating insight into Panasonic and Tesla's battery manufacturing approach...
Above: Vincent Everts
Recapping Tesla's Gigafactory news, CleanTechnica looks at the enormity of what Elon Musk is taking on: "The big deal is that a human being has had the idealistic but realistic vision to transform society’s transportation and electricity markets... [he] has repeatedly tried to achieve things so ridiculous that people routinely thought he was either crazy or an idiot (or, most likely, both); that every time something giant was achieved, he put the rewards back on the line to double the winnings; that this guy wants to positively disrupt not 1, but 2 or 3 ginormous industries; and — here’s the beautiful thing — that none of it (aside from the fun) is really for him. It’s for society."
Instagram: Tesla Motors
With that, we'll leave you with a few more amazing behind-the-scenes images* from the launch event. I think that last photo below really says it all, a subtle signal from the environment that it's happy Tesla's Gigafactory is happening.
*Source, Reddit: pixel4