Tesla is on track to open its new battery factory in 2016, according to several statements from the company.
Construction on the Gigafactory, located outside of Reno, Nev., began last fall. Originally, Tesla had anticipated it would be ready in 2017 or 2018.
The first progress update came last week, accompanying Tesla’s 2014 earnings statement.
“Significant steel fabrication of the structure started about two months ago,” said Tesla in a letter to shareholders. “We remain on plan to begin equipment installation later this year and for the start of battery pack production in 2016, in partnership with Panasonic.”
The Gigafactory’s fast-tracked construction status was confirmed by Tesla Director of Battery Operations Kurt Kelly, during a trip to Osaka, Japan this week.
“The plant’s launch will be accelerated to bring down production costs through economies of scale,” the Nikkei Asian Review quoted Kelly as saying.
Production will begin at a metered pace once the factory is open, with plans to ramp up over the next few years. By 2020, Tesla has announced that the Gigafactory will be capable of building batteries for 500,000 vehicles per year.
Some have speculated that by turning out half a million batteries every year, Tesla is staging itself to provide battery stacks for other electric vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Bolt. To date, officials from Tesla, General Motors and other automakers haven’t confirmed this and it’s believed by others GM has lined up another supply line.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, also talked briefly last week about a new residential product Tesla will soon offer.
“We’re going to unveil the Tesla home battery [indiscernible] consumer battery that will be for use in and [sic] people’s houses or businesses, fairly soon,” said Musk in a financial earnings webcast last week. “We have the design done and it should start going into production probably about six months or so.”
Musk hasn’t elaborated further, though it’s probable that the Gigafactory will also takepart in manufacturing these residential batteries.