Tesla Charges Ahead with Plans for More Gigafactories

Tesla, electric cars, electric vehicles, renewables, clean energy, Leon Kaye, energy storage, gigafactory
Tesla insists more Model S cars are leaving the assembly line, pushing it to plan for three more ‘gigafactories.’

Tesla Motors’ first ‘gigafactory’ may not be completed until next year. But the company is still bullish on the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, solar panels and its anticipated Model 3 electric cars.

In a form 8-K filed Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla announced that it has three new gigafactories on the drawing board as it continues to bet all of its chips on electric vehicles and renewable energy.

The company’s much-hyped gigafactory is located outside of Reno, Nevada, and started manufacturing batteries for energy storage last month. This massive factory, which motivated several states to pull out all the stops in order to score those coveted manufacturing jobs, is slated to operate at full capacity next year.

Tesla claims that by the end of 2018, the Nevada factory will assemble more lithium-ion batteries than what were produced globally in 2013.

The second gigafactory, announced by SolarCity before its merger with Tesla, will be constructed in Buffalo, New York. Once it is fully operational, the company says it will be the largest solar panel factory in the Western Hemisphere. Local press reports estimate the Buffalo gigafactory will go online in 2019. Along with the Nevada facility, the upstate New York factory is a partnership with Panasonic.

But it is the cryptic announcement that Telsa plans to build three new gigafactories that turned heads, and it appeared to leave CNBC’s Jim Cramer close to yet another near aneurysm. Tesla’s total revenues soared to over $7 billion, a huge jump over the previous fiscal year, when the automaker reaped just over $4 billion.

But the company still posted losses that were wider than expected to the tune of $121.3 million, or 69 cents a share. Those red lines in its financial statements, coupled with Tesla’s determination to buck conventional wisdom and expand the manufacture of technologies that many in Wall Street still do not view as viable, rattled some investors. The company’s stock price has fallen over 6 percent as of press time.

Tesla is mum when it comes to disclosing where gigafactories three, four and five will be located. But look for municipality and state governments to fall over each other as they seek both the brand’s prestige and, more importantly, the manufacturing jobs that keep on disappearing due to automation. The company says it will finalize those locations later this year.

In Tesla’s view, such growth is necessary as the company expects deliveries of its Model X and Model S to tally as high as 50,000 units by the middle of this year, which would result in as many as 71 percent more cars rolling off its assembly lines than during FY2015.

The company also promised that the highly anticipated Model 3 will begin in limited production this July. At some point in 2018, Tesla expects to produce 10,000 vehicles weekly – which the company claims is made possible by increased automation within its assembly lines.

Between its cars’ popularity, the long waiting list for the Model 3 and solar power’s projected growth, watch for Tesla’s chutzpah to gobsmack Wall Street analysts even more, its products to surge in popularity despite the current administration’s affinity for fossil fuels, and most importantly, continue to disrupt the automotive and energy sectors.

Image credit: raneko/Flickr

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Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is a business writer and strategic communications specialist. He has also been featured in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. When he has time, he shares his thoughts on his own site, GreenGoPost.com. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

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