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Tesla’s initial “gigafactory,” dedicated to battery manufacturing, near Sparks, Nevada. (Tesla) 

Tesla eyes Texas manufacturing site, production of advanced batteries

Reports say Tesla has chosen Texas for a new vehicle assembly plant that might have mammoth capacity.

The website Electrek, long closely connected to inside information about electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla, reports that the company will confirm it intends to build an all-new vehicle assembly plant near Austin, Texas. The plant reputedly will be earmarked to build Tesla’s new Model Y compact crossover and the company’s first-ever pickup truck, initially dubbed Cybertruck. Equally titillating is the reputed timeline for the factory to come on stream, assembling the Model Y by the end of 2020.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a reputation for large promises and having an entirely new plant built and running by the end of this year would be a considerable task. But some have suggested Musk has augmented motivation after he vented frustration with a COVID-related California mandate that sought to keep closed the company’s plant in Fremont longer than Musk believed prudent or necessary.

At the time, he threatened to move Tesla’s headquarters and future vehicle production from the state; speculation began almost instantly as to whether the EV maker – already pressed to capacity in Fremont – might now seek to act quickly on Musk’s assertions. The CEO had previously stated the company would build a new assembly plant for the Cybertruck somewhere in the middle of the country.

Even bigger battery-making footprint?
Musk also has used the term “terafactory” for what could be Tesla’s vision of battery and/or vehicle manufacturing at a scale an order of magnitude larger than at its current battery Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada. If such a factory were to produce a terawatt-hour of battery cells, the capacity would be 1000 gigawatt-hours, some 20 times the capacity of the Nevada Gigafactory, which Tesla already claims is the world’s largest-capacity battery-production facility. 

Musk has said the company is ready to reveal the status of an advanced new battery technology from an internal research and development project. The resulting batteries reportedly would be made by Tesla instead of current partner Panasonic, be more energy-dense and their cost would represent a significant reduction from current levels.

But Tesla also has applied the gigafactory terminology to a factory in Buffalo, NY, that does not produce battery cells and to its newest vehicle-production plant in Shanghai, China. The latest terafactory references could be intended to suggest the general footprint and scope of a new factory; it is unclear if Musk’s vision for the reported new Texas assembly plant could be one of a ‘terafactory’ to manufacture both vehicles and  the new Tesla-developed battery cells.

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