Earlier this year, Tesla reached over $1 billion in construction spending on the Gigafactory in Nevada, according to building permits. Despite the large investment, the current structure, which hasn’t changed much so far this year, only represent a fraction of the planned final building.
We now learn that they are working on adding another expansion to the building with a new section.
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Over the past 3 months, Tesla obtained new building permits to build additional foundations and structure for a new section called “Section G”.
The current structure has a 1.9 million square-foot footprint and about 4.9 million square feet of operational space. It represents only ~30 percent of the total finished Gigafactory.
While construction work has been ongoing in the interior, the exterior structure stayed the same since late last year and only finishing work has been visible since the beginning of the year.
Above, you can see a satellite picture taken last week and below is a side-by-side comparison from January to March:
A new section would be the most significant addition to the site in 2017.
Building permits listed on Buildzoom showed Tesla obtained one for “structural steel and foundations” estimated at $13 million and later obtained an addendum for an estimated $28 million project on the new section:
The new section appears to be coming up on the north side of the factory.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison from satellite pictures of the factory from 2 weeks ago (left) and last week (right) – via planetlab:
Tesla also obtained dozens of new construction permits for the Gigafactory over the past few months, including for an AT&T cell tower estimated at $350,000 and two skid mounted hot oil heating systems estimated at $18.7 million.
While construction is ongoing, Tesla, Panasonic, and other suppliers, are also now actively manufacturing batteries and battery packs at the factory.
Panasonic has been ramping up battery cell production for the current onsite manufacturing of Tesla Powerwalls and Powerpacks, and at some point during the current quarter, battery cell production is expected to start being used for the Model 3, which in turn is expected to start production in July.
Tesla is also building Model 3 drive unit production lines at the Gigafactory – meaning that Tesla will ship most of the powertrain from the Gigafactory to Tesla Fremont Factory in California for the start of production.
From there, they plan to ramp up production to 35 GWh of battery cells and 50 GWh of battery packs in order to support Tesla’s planned annual production rate of 500,000 vehicles in 2018. Ultimately, Tesla wants to reach full production of 150 GWh of battery packs output, which is expected in 2020 according to the company.
As they try to reach those goals, the company will also have several more parallel Gigafactory programs – up to 4 more factories, said CEO Elon Musk last week.