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Leon Kaye headshot

Tesla Charges Ahead with Plans for More Gigafactories

By Leon Kaye

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

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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