For a company that’s been criticized often for setting goals it doesn’t meet, Tesla hit the mark on Wednesday with its enormous plans for the Gigafactory: production has begun inside the currently-1.9 million square foot facility on Tesla’s first battery cells, which will power everything from its energy storage products to the Model 3 sedan.
“With the Gigafactory online and ramping up production, our cost of battery cells will significantly decline due to increasing automation and process design to enhance yield, lowered capital investment per Wh of production, the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof, and economies of scale,” the company said in a statement today.
Beginning mass production of the lithium-ion battery cell inside the Gigafactory stems from a partnership with Panasonic. At peak production, Tesla says it’ll employ directly employ more than 6,500 and people, while several thousand temporary construction workers will be hired this year. The structure is eventually slated to be 4.9 million square feet across several floors.
Having battery cells produced in America is helpful for the company’s goal to reduce the cost of an electric vehicle for consumers. As Bloomberg notes, there are not enough lithium-ion batteries being produced anywhere across the world for Tesla to meet its Model 3 sales goal of 500,000 vehicles by next year.
“By bringing down the cost of batteries, we can make our products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy,” the company said.
There’s also a political upshot here: the incoming president has routinely blasted automakers for producing cars overseas. That’s not the case with Tesla. Bloomberg reports that roughly 95 percent of the Model 3's components will be made in the U.S., and a majority of the company’s employees are based in the country.