Tesla, Panasonic form 'Gigafactory' electric vehicle battery behemoth

Tesla, Panasonic form 'Gigafactory' electric vehicle battery behemoth

Summary: The companies have signed an agreement to form a massive battery manufacturing plant dubbed the Gigafactory in the United States.

TOPICS: Innovation, Hardware
Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 09.21.52
Credit: Tesla Motors

Panasonic and Tesla have signed an agreement to build a large-scale manufacturing plant dubbed the Gigafactory in order to develop electric vehicle batteries and capitalize on the growing industry.

Announced on Thursday, the electronics giant and automaker say the factory will be built in the United States, and "represents a fundamental change in the way large scale battery production can be realized."

Tesla will purchase, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities required for the Gigafactory, while Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells, as well as invest funds in equipment, machinery and tools the firms require for battery R&D and manufacture.

Yoshihiko Yamada, Executive Vice President of Panasonic commented:

"We have already engaged in various collaborative projects with Tesla toward the popularization of electric vehicles. Panasonic’s lithium-ion battery cells combine the required features for electric vehicles such as high capacity, durability and cost performance. And I believe that once we are able to manufacture lithium-ion battery cells at the Gigafactory, we will be able to accelerate the expansion of the electric vehicle market."

The Gigafactory's creation is based on Tesla's wish to advance mass market electric vehicles, which is proving to be a tall order due to the short-time high cost of purchasing such cars. A number of other factors are also at play; range anxiety -- driver fear of running out of juice on the road -- a lack of charging stations and a lack of knowledge concerning electric vehicles (EVs) have also hampered adoption.

If the Gigafactory is used as a base to improve EV batteries and produce them in bulk, not only could this bring down the average cost of an EV for consumers, but batteries which last longer could also quell range anxiety fears and lure more drivers to make the shift from traditional fossil fuel models to electric alternatives.

The Gigafactory will produce cells, modules and packs for Tesla’s electric vehicles and for the stationary storage market. Tesla and Panasonic hope the factory will produce 35GWh of cells and 50GWh of packs per year by 2020, as well as employ approximately 6,500 people.

Topics: Innovation, Hardware

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  • Little typo

  • Good news.

    It's a vote of confidence in the industry - and in the US's manufacturing capability (its ability to compete with Asia, that is!).

    Electric power is allabout reaching critical mass; this can only help.
    • I've been using

      I've been using electric power for all my life. It's not really power though as it's only the movement of energy. The power is in the nuclear plant 100 miles away.
      Buster Friendly
      • Strictly speaking...

        At least from a physicist's point of view, power *is* the movement of energy. It's the energy per unit time flowing through the wire. It is *also* the energy per unit time being converted, either into electricity (at the generator) or into heat/light/movement/whatever at your end.
        • True

          That's true and you can measure power at any point in the system. If you wanted to use physics wording, the source of the potential difference that makes it all move is the plant. Take out that piece and it all grinds to a halt.
          Buster Friendly
  • Watch out

    Rushing things out just before earnings usually means the reports are going to be bad. Of course the stock is so ridiculously above a reasonable value, it really don't matter.
    Buster Friendly
  • Step One

    Well it's has to be done to have any type of future.
    Currently they can only make so many cars due to the availability of batteries.
    • Not really

      Not really. It's the lack of any significant demand. Anything that requires huge taxpayer handouts just to stay alive isn't really a functional business. If a demand does develop, everyone will producing one so there's really no upside for Tesla. We are talking 19th century technology with just an expensive battery added. Basically it's a fools stock bubble.
      Buster Friendly
      • Tesla doesn't need handouts to be profitable.

        They've been profitable on their own for several years now. Their factory is making cars as fast as they can, and orders are still piling up. Demand is not the issue, when you are a new company outselling Porsche and other luxury cars in your market and struggling to keep up with orders.
        Jason Joyner
      • Ha?

        You are joking right? Tesla has a huge amount of demand. So much demand they can't produce cars fast enough. the Tesla Model S is the #1 selling full sized premium sedan in the US (Gas or electric).

        Tesla also doesn't get any taxpayer handouts. (at least no different than any other business)

        And you are sounding very silly on that 19th century comment. The rechargeable lithium ion battery was not even commercialized until 1991.
        • no taxpayer handouts?

          " Tesla announced a $26 million profit (based on one method of accounting), but again the profit hinged on $51 million in ZEV credits; by year's end, these credit sales could net Tesla a whopping $250 million. There are also generous tax credits and rebates for electric-car buyers: $7,500 from the federal government and up to $5,000 if you live in California' - Oct 2013/Mother Jones.

          It that's not a taxpayer handout...
      • A fool's stock bubble...

        Do you mean as opposed to a genius’s stock bubble?
  • Question...

    I live off the coast of one of the Great Lakes (Michigan) and we have shipping on the lakes. What's the toxicity of a car load of batteries if the ship sank? I know oil is bad but since its organic in nature eventually microbes will eat it.

    Just wondered. I think electric cars are the future but they will have to solve a lot of problems before I would buy one in a northern state due to the cold and the unknown fluctuation in available power from the batteries up here. Is that really a 20% charge left or will you be stranded on the side of the road in winter?
    Rann Xeroxx
    • There's really no such thing as an electric car

      There's really no such thing as an electric car. With a few exceptions like gravity based, all machines off various chemical reactions. The electric part is the transmission and doesn't define what makes it move.

      I don't know about the pollution potential of the lithium-ion in water but the fire potential really makes them irresponsible to use in a vehicle. Unlike other batteries, the electrolyte is both flammable and is pressurized. When damaged they can catch fire with no external ignition source and are very difficult to put out. That's why they're considered a hazardous material that requires special handling for shipping.
      Buster Friendly
      • Not quite

        The electric part is the *motor*. The electricity to run the motor is generated from chemical reactions in the electrochemical cells, but the part that makes it an "electric car" is the motor, and the motor is very much what makes the car move, as it's the part that converts electric potential energy into kinetic energy. You can produce an electric car with a completely mechanical transmission if you want, or even no transmission at all; they just wouldn't be optimal.
        • The motor is the transmission.

          The electric motor is a transmission just as much as a gear box. Trains use them verse a gear box because of the standing still torque ability. The power storage and conversion is really what we care about and not the mechanism of the transmission.
          Buster Friendly
      • Which is why

        Tesla's are designed to contain a fire as long as possible, unlike gasoline cars which just go up in flames in seconds. The biggest problems with the Tesla fires I've heard about are due to fire departments cutting them open and spraying water on the fire, which is the last thing you want to do with battery fires.
        Jason Joyner
      • Incorrect

        You charge the battery with electricity, and then the motor runs on electricity. It is an electric car. The energy being stored in a chemical battery and being released due to a chemical reaction does not take away from it being an electric car. Also, EVs have no transmission.

        There is no real pollution potential nor is there any fire potential. Lithium Ion batteries store lithium in compound form. The electrolyte which is carbon based can catch on fire in an event of a short but is not that much of a risk. At the very least gasoline is far more risky.

        Putting out a lithium ion battery fire is actually fairly simple. Just add water.

        And you are incorrect, lithium ion batteries only require special handling when shipping by air. Regular shipping they are considered non-hazardous.
        • incorrect.. incorrect...

          WeaponZero.. while correct on many points, You are incorrect with the generalization " EVs have no transmission".
          Many EVs in including Tesla models have multi-speed transmissions.

          The reason: dynamic range of operation (RPM) for the motors and their electronic drive circuitry they have chosen to use.
          For practical purposes this primarily relates to resonate frequency(s) of the motor and the switching losses in power electronics.
          As switching speeds increase , efficiency drops.

          Basically a compromise in mechanical complexity, physical space requirements and electrical complexity. With a mix of cost concerns thrown in.

          Often addressed with a two speed transmission.
          or limiting the top speed to something less than ~50-80 mph.
    • None really

      Unlike lead acid batteries, lithium ion batteries are non-toxic.

      The battery system comes with a thermal management system that keeps the battery warmed up in cold weather. It really isn't much of an issue. Norway is one of the biggest buyers of electric cars and they work just fine.