Tesla Gigafactory Tour

Tesla Gigafactory Tour

I attended a National Automobile Museum-organized tour of the Tesla Gigafactory outside Reno this morning. It was pretty interesting.

I'd post links to pictures, but we were only allowed to take pictures in the lobby, and it was explained that even these pictures were for personal use only and could not be posted online. So, no pictures. Sorry about that.

I'd tell you something about the tour and talk, but each one of the attendees had to read and sign a non-disclosure agreement saying that we understood that everything on the tour was confidential. So...sorry about that.

I suppose I can tell you what we _didn't_ see or get any details about on the tour, which was battery production. That stuff is all Double Plus Top Secret.

I will say that it's an interesting tour nonetheless and if you're a Tesla fan it's time well spent.

reed_lewis | 17. März 2017

So bottom line:

- You went to the Gigafactory and you did not see the battery production at all (which is what the factory is about), and cannot tell us about what you did see.

Why did you even post this? There is nothing useful.


David N | 17. März 2017

Thanks for the comments.
If anyone was interested in what's happening down there,I think your comments will certainly help motivate them to seek out the tour. It sounds quite impressive. Almost like history unfolding right before us.
The secrecy is not all Tesla, Panasonic has a huge stake in this also and has every right to protect their work. It's great that they even open up the plant for tours.

NKYTA | 18. März 2017

Dramsey, so it is a really big building?


J.T. | 18. März 2017

@NKYTA And I've heard that it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. But, sadly, the source of that information was electrocuted by a renegade flashlight.

J.T. | 18. März 2017

Damn. I had the joke and blew it. Erase that, here it is.

But, sadly, the source of that information died when the lithium ion battery in his Samsung exploded.

Much better.

Dramsey | 18. März 2017

"Why did you even post this? There is nothing useful."

I posted it because I think their restrictions are silly. There was literally nothing we were shown or told on the tour that Tesla hasn't said publically, many times. Musk's penchant for secrecy and not communicating with customers borders on the paranoid, as people waiting for EAP software or their new 100D cars know.

The only interesting part about the tour is seeing some of the scale of the operation in person (I.e. Seeing and walking around a very large building that is nonetheless only a fraction of its final size). Since I live quite close to the factory it was a no-brained for me, and none of the other tour participants were Tesla owners, so they probably found the recitation of car and battery features more interesting than I did.

SamO | 18. März 2017


The NDA only limits the disclosure of non public information.

So a description "I saw racks, robots and cell manufacturing just like in the video . . ." then you are likely still in conformity with the agreement.

But maybe you should say nothing, just to be on the safe side, however, anything you observed that is outside or observable from the outside is not contemplated in any NDA.

RGH | 18. März 2017

Uh, I don't get it. A few months ago, I visited the GigaFactory with a friend by invitation only during a so-called "grand opening." Of course, nothing was really finished, but the building was super impressive and high tech as expected. We spent about 6 hours there until 1 am in the morning. There was no NDA, and they didn't care about taking photos, and plenty of nice food and drinks.

Thus, I am baffled by the so-called secrecy mentioned.

Dramsey | 18. März 2017

When you enter the lobby, there are two computers near the back where you must sign in (your tour members are listed, and you pick your name from a list).

(@SamO, unless you've seen the specific NDA I did, I don't think your understanding is correct. You can be prohibited from disclosing even publically available information; for example, I've seen employees in the computer industry fired for disclosing ostensibly public information-- it's possible they might have prevailed in court, I suppose, but they technically broke their NDA.)

After that there is a multi-page NDA, very similar to the ones you see when you install, say, Microsoft Office, and it was pretty clear that _anything_ you see is confidential. I suppose they didn't want to pick and choose, and worry about updating the NDA. Still, that's what it said, and our tour guide emphasized this point to make sure we all understood.

Our tour lasted well under an hour, @Pink Floyd Roadie, so it sounds as if you got much more thorough tour than did we. But it also sounds as if you were touring a building-in-progress rather than an operating factory, so perhaps that explains the difference in our experiences.

KP in NPT | 18. März 2017

You also sign an NDA when you do a Fremont factory tour.

I don't know why anyone is surprised that things that are not publicly known would be "secret" on a tour. Go on a factory tour now and the entire Model 3 area is avoided/shrouded from view.

RGH | 18. März 2017

Dramsey, thanks for the extra info. At the time I was there, it was actually a tour where some building was in progress. Several workers on the floor even though it was in the evening. Yea you explained the difference in the experience. It was mainly to show the building, processes, etc. No actual batteries being build at that time. When I toured the Fremont plant almost a year ago, they were very picky about no photos, etc. I knew that would be the case in advance of going.

rgrant | 18. März 2017

It is puzzling that they're being so hush-hush about the Gigafactory. Especially given that they've given away key patents in order to accelerate electric vehicle development. What is there to hide? You'd think they would want to be showing the world how awesome it is? Very mysterious...

Dramsey | 18. März 2017

One possible reason is that Tesla is not the sole owner/operator of the Gigafactory: Panasonic owns much of the equipment in the factory and will be the entity actually making the batteries.

David N | 18. März 2017

It is puzzling that they're being so hush-hush about the Gigafactory. .......................there are reasons
Especially given that they've given away key patents in order to accelerate electric vehicle development. ......................Thats Tesla, not Panasonic, Panasonic will be the Battery producer.
What is there to hide?..............I don't believe it is about "hiding". Maybe more about preventing untrue comments.
You'd think they would want to be showing the world how awesome it is? ..........the world will see the result in a few months.
Very mysterious...............kind of, yes. But look at it this way. With reporters and even the general public so caught up in sensationalism today, I can see people taking and posting pictures with negative comments when in fact they have no clue what they are talking about, they just like to express criticism and their opinion. People will do strange things for selfish reasons. Just imagine what some on these forums would say if pictures were posted of the new assembly line being installed. Instead of amazement in the complexity, I can imagine some regulars here would just criticize and would make sure to express their opinions on what they see in the pictures (doesn't matter if what they say is true or not). Some comments and pictures could make national news. So, in the end, I think they are doing the right thing in limiting possible problem areas.

On another thought, does Chevy offer tours of the battery assembly for the Bolt?
How about tours for the Bolt assembly factory?

topher | 19. März 2017

"it's possible they might have prevailed in court, I suppose, but they technically broke their NDA."

No, if they prevailed in court, then they didn't break their NDA (technically or not). If it was not adjudicated, then we don't if they 'technically' broke it or not.

Thank you kindly.

Dramsey | 20. März 2017

"No, if they prevailed in court, then they didn't break their NDA (technically or not)."

Not necessarily. The court could have found the NDA invalid for a number of reasons.

In any case few private inviduals would have the money and time to take on a large company in court. I know of a case back in the 1980s where an employee was fired for repeating technical points online that had been made by the head of the company an an industry meeting; when he protested that he hadn't said anything the company president hadn't, it was explained to him that he was not the president and didn't have the same privileges regarding public pronouncements.

I think he had a strong case, but he elected not to pursue it and I don't blame him.

DonS | 22. März 2017

Sometimes it is a matter of not having time to designate what is secret and what is not, so by default, everything becomes secret. The people with authority to declare what is NOT secret are too busy to cater to our curiosity.

brando | 22. März 2017

As we all know, and Elon has often said, people make too much of monthly numbers and so better to keep them "secret" and avoid all the misinformation etc. Well, not just numbers, is that really a surprise?

And when it comes to "marketing" without giving money to the "auto press" won't you like to keep things secret and make announcements on your own terms? All seems sensible to me.

And I still read way too much speculation here and else where.