Published: Thu, January 05, 2017
Science | By Carlton Santiago

Tesla's Gigafactory starts mass producing battery cells

Panasonic will invest more than $256 million in a NY production facility of Elon Musk's Tesla Motors to make photovoltaic cells and modules, deepening a partnership of the two companies.

There are already over 1,000 employees working for Tesla and Panasonic to produce the battery cells and Tesla's Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2. After Tesla brings cell production from Japan to the USA for its vehicles, the percentage of content in its vehicles made in the US could jump from around 55% to around 90% - a figure that would give Model 3 more American-made content than any other vehicle. The company has plans to build 21 blocks in the factory so that battery cell and pack production is in full flow.

Model 3. Image source: Tesla Motors.

"And we are still less than 30 percent done". In a blog post, Tesla says the new battery cells were "jointly designed and engineered by Tesla and Panasonic to offer the best performance at the lowest production cost in an optimal form factor for both electric vehicles and energy products".

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The news has some experts questioning if Tesla can come through on its pledge to make 500,000 cars per year by 2018. Tesla will also saving on shipping costs because the batteries will be built in America, near Tesla's California factory, rather than in Asia. Check out the timeline below for more on the Gigafactory! "At the heart of these products are batteries", Tesla wrote. Once the merger is complete, Musk envisions the combined company as a one-stop shop for electric cars, solar panels and battery systems to store excess energy at home, eliminating the need for fossil fuel-powered heating and cooling systems.

Analysts have been impressed with the scope of Musk's plans - he's also talked about sending humans to colonize Mars - but remain concerned about his ability to meet investor expectations.

"We were ultimately able to recover and hit our production goal, but the delay in production resulted in challenges that impacted quarterly deliveries, including, among other things, cars missing shipping cutoffs for Europe and Asia", the company said.

On the CES stage, chairman and CEO of Panasonic North America, Joseph Taylor, showed off one example of the company's vision of energy for the future in a highly flexible, thin lithium-ion battery. "Will-more-zoom-make-a-difference-video" class="local_link" target="_blank">consistent net losses in the last 12 quarters, as The Christian Science Monitor previously reported. In November, Tesla merged with rooftop solar company SolarCity.

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