Tesla's 'gigafactory' could be the game-changer

Dear Reader,

We wish this were happening in Michigan, but the biggest news on the electric vehicle front in the last few weeks came from Tesla, the California-based manufacturer of the sporty (and pricey) Model S.

The company announced that it will invest about $2 billion in a large-scale factory to produce cheaper batteries for a mass-market EV within three years. Partners are expected to kick in another $3 billion, and the plan is to have the factory in operation by 2017.

“Tesla said the factory would allow it to develop and cut the costs of its batteries for its vehicles more quickly, in part by producing finished batteries from metal ore instead of from components,” according to a report in the New York Times. “Analysts said that Tesla needs more batteries if it is to make its third-generation vehicle, an electric sedan that will be sold for less than $40,000.”

Tesla’s “gigafactory” could transform the power industry as much as advance its electric car, according to a report on GreenBiz.com.

“The goal is to quickly bring down the cost of batteries—30 percent lower per kilowatt cost in the first year—to produce a ‘compelling, affordable electric car in about three years,’ and accelerate battery innovation—a game-changer for electric cars and the entire energy storage industry.”

The Model S has gotten rave reviews from Consumer Reports and other outlets, and maybe the company can do for advanced batteries what it has done for the EV. It grinds us up, though, to see these investments being made in other states.

Michigan has done a great job so far in attracting advanced battery manfufacturers to the state, but clearly has more competition now.  We sure hope it will keep its eye on maintaining its leadership role in these vital building blocks of the future auto industry.

Thanks for all you do.

Charles Griffith
Climate & Energy Program Director
The Ecology Center