Posted on June 20, 2016 by Matt Pressman
In order for Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] to be able to accommodate the influx of Panasonic's lithium-ion batteries needed for ~400,000 Model 3 pre-orders, Tesla will need to create the largest battery factory on the planet. Electrek reports that Panasonic, Tesla's partner at the Gigafactory, stated that it's "gearing up for significant growth" in order to manufacture massive quantities of it's new 20700 battery cell format for the Model 3. Cell production is expected to start by the end of the year at the first phase of the ‘Gigafactory 1’. The first phase offers about 1.9 million sq-ft of manufacturing and work-space. The final version of the factory is expected to have [over] 13 million sq-ft. And, Panasonic has already accelerated its investment in the Gigafactory investing almost as much as Tesla, $64 million, in the last quarter alone.
Above: The new Model 3 parked in the lobby of the Gigafactory (Source: Motor Trend)
The Tesla Gigafactory, estimated to cost ~$5 Billion, is destined to be more than just the world's largest battery factory -- it's shaping up to be the largest factory, of any kind, on planet earth. How does it compare with the reigning top 10 largest factories? Valuewalk* reports, "that Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 is not included on the [top 10] list, because it isn’t opening until July 2016. Once completed, it is projected to dwarf all of the factories on this list at the impressive size of 1.3 million m² (13.6 million ft²)... an expansion of roughly 40% from it’s previous expected size of 929,000 m² (10 million ft²)." Check out the before and after graphic below for reference.
Above: Comparing Tesla Gigafactory's old size with it's projected new size (Source: Valuewalk*)
After the Tesla Gigafactory has its grand opening launch event on July 29th, it'll surely take over Valuewalk's current top 10 list. And... a fun fact: Tesla's automotive factory in Fremont, California is already on the list at number three. To see the Tesla Gigafactory in its current construction phase, check out the image below.
Above: Tesla Gigafactory currently under construction (Source: Motor Trend)
So until the Tesla Gigafactory officially opens its doors next month, let's take a look at the current top 10 list of the world's largest factories (in descending order) followed by a corresponding infographic in which, "we present the world's biggest manufacturing plants that churn out cars, cruise ships, the largest commercial airplanes, giant rockets and... lace for lingerie. All have one thing in common, that of being vast, sprawling production complexes. Excluded in our list are warehouses and distribution centers. Here's our rankings based on total floor space."
WORLD'S LARGEST FACTORIES
Located in Florida, this 32,374 m² facility was built by NASA in 1966 for the assembly of the Saturn V rocket. It’s doors are 456 ft tall.
Owned and managed by the Meyer family for six generations, this is the largest shipbuilding hall used to construct cruise ships. It’s located in Papenburg, Germany, and is 63,000 m² in size.
An unexpected entry on this list, this factory produces raw materials and lace for lingerie. It’s about five football fields long, and two wide. Located in Latvia, the facility is 115,645 m² in total area.
It’s no surprise that aircraft assembly plants are among some of the world’s largest factories. This Airbus plant is in France, and is 122,500 m² in size.
For automotive companies, size means economies of scale. This plant was set up in 1981 in Illinois to oversee Mitsubishi’s manufacturing, production, sales, and R&D in North America. This 220,000 m² facility ended production in late 2015 because of the company’s shift to focusing on Asian markets.
Also located in Illinois, this factory is owned by Chrysler. It was constructed in 1965 and takes up a whopping 330,000 m² of space. It’s where the Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, and Dodge Dart get assembled.
Just outside of Seattle is the world’s biggest aircraft assembly operation by size. At 398,000 m², this is where the 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliner get built. It’s also the largest building in the world by volume.
Not to be confused with the Gigafactory, this is Tesla’s current principal production facility for its cars. It uses 10 of the largest robots in the world, and has a 510,000 m² footprint in Fremont, California.
This is 10x bigger than the Tesla Factory, located in South Korea. It’s over 5 million m² and is Hyundai’s main production facility. Amazingly, it employs 34,000 personnel, while having facilities often reserved for entire cities. The factory has its own hospital, port, and fire station.
Weighing in at #1 on the “World’s Largest Factories” list [until the Tesla Gigafactory opens] is Volkswagen’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. It edges out Hyundai’s entry by about 1.5 million m². It’s the biggest car plant in the world and also Volkswagen AG’s headquarters. It’s so big, at 6.5 million m², that floor workers use bicycles to get around.
Check out the corresponding top 10 list of the current World's Largest Factories infographic below (soon to be taken over by the Tesla Gigafactory)...