Back in October, we reported that Tesla invited investors to a special event at the Gigafactory on January 4th. This week, Tesla sent out the official invites and confirmed that CEO Elon Musk will be there for a talk with management, including CTO JB Straubel. Our understanding is the focus will be on touring the factory, which recently doubled in size, and not on access to management.
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According to the agenda sent to investors and obtained by Electrek, opening remarks will start at 9am and then the factory will be open for guided tours. No pictures will be allowed inside the factory. CEO Elon Musk, CTO JB Straubel and CFO Jason Wheeler, will be available for a Q&A.
The timing of the event is particularly interesting since Tesla is expected to announce the start of battery cell production at the plant and reveal more details about its battery cell developed in partnership with Panasonic any day now. Throughout the year, Tesla has been guiding the start of battery cell production as “later this year” and there are only 3 days left in 2016.
We expect a better understanding of Tesla’s short-term plans for production at the Gigafactory to come out of the event. The company says that it aims for 50 GWh of production in 2018, but plans for 2017 are not as clear.
Tesla is supposed to start producing second generation Tesla Energy products, the Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2, in volumes during the first half of 2017 and the Model 3 production will add to the battery demand during the second half. Therefore, Tesla and Panasonic’s production capacity at the factory in 2017 will be a critical factor to Tesla’s success during the year.
Finally, we recently revealed that Tesla is expanding the manufacturing scope of the Gigafactory with highly automated drivetrain production lines. The factory was only supposed to manufacture battery cells and packs at first, but now Tesla is apparently expanding to drive units. We could get a better idea of the overall manufacturing scope of the plant after the event next week.
Musk recently confirmed that Tesla plans for the next Gigafactory, likely in Europe, to produce everything from the battery cell to the final vehicle.