Tesla Motors is making progress on its massive battery factory east of Reno in northern Nevada. The work there is going smoothly, and it should be operational “by one year from now,” according to Nevada economic officials.
Plant’s progress report
On Thursday, the director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Steve Hill, told Nevada lawmakers, that the progress on the $5 billion factory is going slightly quicker than the company expected and that the “building will be seven times larger once fully constructed.”
“They built the building,” Hill said, adding soon that they will be bringing and setting up manufacturing equipment in order to begin making batteries soon. The official also noted that Musk, during a conference call, commented that the company could expand the size of the Nevada plant by 50% to 100%, says a report from the Review Journal.
Once completed, Tesla’s gigafactory will be the largest building in the world with a footprint of 5.8 million square feet and two stories of manufacturing space for a total about 10 million square feet, says Hill. Also it could get even larger, probably double in size due to Tesla’s recent announcement of a new plant to produce stationary energy storage units that can store solar-generated electricity for households and businesses even in the absence of sun.
Tesla, as promised, using more local workforce
In the first quarter of 2015, Tesla spent $80 million on the project, which brings its total investment to $143 million. This number excludes investments made before mid-October, Hill said. The official noted that in the first quarter, 320 constructions workers were employed, of which 70% were from Nevada, while 744 construction tradesmen have worked on the project since October, out of which 76% were locals.
“They’re optimistic about Nevada being able to supply a good portion of their workforce at this point through the education system,” Hill said, adding that his office has been working with the company and community college and university officials on developing curriculum and an educational system to help students with the skillset required in the advanced manufacturing field. As of now, Tesla has hired only 12 full-time employees from the state, but Hill expects the number to rise in the coming months.
Tesla Motors’ so-called gigafactory, once completed, will make lithium-ion batteries for the EV firm’s electric cars and potentially for the new home storage battery solutions that the company announced recently. Tesla aim to produce up to 500,000 car batteries a year by 2020.