If you haven’t noticed, Tesla is on an ambitious quest to prove the time of the EV is now. Or, with its Gigafactory battery plant proposed for outside Reno, Nevada, one might also say the time of the mass-produced EV is soon.
To highlight some of the salient points about this monumental undertaking, we’ve compiled a brief list of statistics based on Tesla’s forward-looking statements focused around the year 2020.
While others are wondering whether Tesla can pull it off, the company has defied critics to date, and so, this is the plan, and we’ll give it full benefit of the doubt.
Pending Momentous Results
1. The Gigafactory will be gigantic. At an estimated 10-million square feet, with 6,500 employees, and occupying 500-1,000 acres, it will be one of the world’s largest factories. By comparison, the current largest building in the world by volume at 472 million cubic feet (13.3 million cubic meters) is the Boeing Everett Factory. This 30,000-employee facility in Everett, Washington has 4.3 million square feet of usable floor space, and is situated on 98.3 acres.
2. The Gigafactory is well named. Producing up to 50 gigawatt hours of lithium-ion battery packs per year by 2020, it will be the world’s largest battery factory. An estimated 35 GWh will be for electric cars, and 15 GWh will be for residential and commercial power storage. This output is greater than was the world’s li-ion battery production in 2013.
3. The Gigafactory will be an overachiever. By 2020, and 500,000 electric cars annually, Tesla will produce more EVs in one year than the world has yet produced since 2008. That’s when Tesla’s Roadster kicked off the modern era and was produced through to 2012 with under 2,500 units built. In fact, total global consumption of all plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) only crossed the half-million mark in July 2014. Tesla wants to be selling this many of only BEVs every year in just six years from now.
4. The Gigafactory will be sustainable. Not only will its products be environmentally friendly, so will the facility, as plans are to power it exclusively by solar, wind, and geothermal energy. It’s believed the plant will also be tied to the grid, and have ability to store energy in its own-produced energy storage systems, or Tesla could possibly sell surplus electricity back to the local utility.
5. The Gigafactory will be a market changer. Plans are to singlehandedly drive down cost per kilowatt-hour of li-ion batteries by at least 30 percent. Actually, this estimate is for 2017, at the beginning of the ramp-up period for the entry level Model III. Presumably costs could drop further. This stands to make production financially feasible for Tesla to sell the cars starting in the $30,000s and it could also make it more affordable for other automakers to produce their own electrified vehicles.
6. The Gigafactory will be one giant goad. It stands to be the single most effective spur to the fledgling EV industry assuming it can sell volumes of its cars as planned. If it shows it can be done, it will create a large market. Others will follow.
7. Tesla stands to save lots of gasoline. Specifically, one half-million gas-free electric cars could save around 192 million gallons of gasoline per year. By the time 2020 rolls around, the U.S. EPA estimates under CAFE rules window stickers will average 31.3 mpg combined. Assuming 12,000 miles driven per year you get 383.3 gallons saved per gas-free car. Multiplied by 500,000 cars, you get 191,693,291 gallons saved per year. Or, reduced to just 10,000 miles annually, you still have close to 160 million gallons; and if you wish, averaged to only 8,000 miles driven, it’s almost 128 million gallons.
8. Tesla will be a significant global manufacturing force. Realistically, its somewhere-around 33,500 cars it ought to sell this year makes Tesla a niche player. Assuming synergies work close to plan, by 2020 Tesla stands to be globally selling more pure electric cars per year than Jaguar Land-Rover sells cars, period. At a half-million Teslas per year, this is more than the 425,000 vehicles the British luxury brand sold last year. We mention JLR only because its numbers are close, not to pick on it. The point is half a million EVs per year is a big deal.