The factory started production of cylindrical 2170 cells that will be used for battery packs in Tesla's Powerpack and Powerwall home energy storage systems (above). Cells for the Model 3 electric vehicles will follow in Q2 of 2017.
The cells are jointly developed by the two companies and are 21mm in diameter and 70mm high, giving the 2170 designation, with a capacity of 5175mAh. This is wider and longer than the previous cells that have been used in Tesla systems from third party suppliers.
Tesla predicts that by 2018, the Gigafactory will produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells, nearly as much as the rest of the entire world’s battery production combined. The Gigafactory is being built in phases so that Tesla, Panasonic and other partners can begin manufacturing immediately inside the finished sections and continue to expand thereafter.
The current structure has a footprint of 1.9M square feet, which houses 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors, with less than a third of the space being used. Once complete, Tesla says the Gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world.
The volume of production will drive down the cost of the cells through increased automation and higher yields, says the company, although it does not give a target figure in dollars per watt hour. Tesla and Panasonic will hire several thousand local employees in 2017 and at peak production, the Gigafactory will directly employ 6,500 people and indirectly create between 20,000 to 30,000 additional jobs in the surrounding regions.
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