We are going to need 174 Gigafactories

We are going to need 174 Gigafactories

According to Wikipedia, 87 million motor vehicles were manufactured in the world in 2013. If one Gigafactory can support the manufacture of 500K vehicles, we are going to need 174 Gigafactories to completely eliminate the manufacture of ICE vehicles in the world. Yikes.

vgarbutt | July 25, 2014

Sure i agree its a lot. But what the heck, 174 factories for batteries, means 10 million new well paying jobs for the green industry. It also means jobs in the 100 plus factories to build the cars that need the batteries, and charging industry jobs, and service jobs etc. Sure its a lot, but the challenge is great! Imagine if the USA went all in and built just 50 Mega factories, that would produce 3 million new long term good paying manufacturing jobs directly. That should put a dent in unemployment.

A battery factory in each state would be 60,000 jobs per state, and then there are all those taxes, and count on more jobs in the service and after market industry.

risingsun | July 25, 2014

How many auto factories are there in the world? And maybe factories can produce more batteries per factory. I'm not sure what is the limiting factors to how much each factory can produce. You can definitely get economies of scales at these large numbers.

vgarbutt | July 25, 2014

Boy when u see the numbers for the raw materials of one factory, electric cars on a big scale like this would sure change the game for miners, and challenge the resources.

Brp154 | July 25, 2014

A couple of thoughts/questions:

-Teslas have huge battery packs, a 20-30kwh battery would be fine in many applications. If every two car house had an 85kwh and a 25kwh, we would be looking good. If you cut the battery size by 60 percent for half of the batteries, you've saved a lot.

-How recyclable is a lithium-ion battery? I know it would take a long time, but after 20 years, for example will we have a huge influx of useable raw materials from early EV's taken out of the fleet?

There are options other than EV for cars that are respectable, such second generation biodiesel and ethanol, and there may be carbon capture in the future.

I agree with the original post that the quantities and scope seem daunting. However, I feel we can take stress off the inputs needed for massive battery manufacturing by limiting the battery size, using recycled inputs, and also developing competing fuels/technologies that don't use the same resources.

nwdiver93 | July 25, 2014

2 Terafactories :)

Red Sage ca us | July 25, 2014

Fewer Cells, More Power, for Less Money...

Brp154 wrote, "If you cut the battery size by 60 percent for half of the batteries, you've saved a lot."

That's just what Tesla Motors is doing. People keep thinking in terms of either the physical size of the entire battery pack, or the economics of 'dollars per kWh'. Neither is of any significance.

Because Tesla Motors is working toward improving the storage capacity of individual battery cells. At an average of 8% per year that means that the capacity of a single battery cell doubles every nine years. Tesla has actually seen slightly better increases in energy density.

The amount of battery cells that held 53 kWh of energy in 2008 for the Tesla Roadster were capable of 85 kWh in 2012 for Tesla Model S. If that pattern holds, it will be possible for that number of battery cells to deliver a 135 kWh capacity by 2016. At that rate, you may well see a 220 kWh battery pack by 2020.

By that time only 40% of the cells would be needed to deliver 85 kWh as compared to 2012. With economies of scale from the Gigafactory, they would only cost as much as 28% of the battery cells from 2012. As the years go by, the prices will just go down further, and always for higher capacity.

negarholger | July 25, 2014

Any idea how many gasoline engine factories are in the World? Probably thousands. Exhaust factories? Transmission factories? Starter motor factories? Lead Acid battery factories? Clutch factories? Etc...
Going to BEVs the industrial complex car manufacturing will likely shrink.
174 over 20 years would be open a factory every month ( a little less )

Assuming after 20 years energy density is 3x then you would need only around 50 factories...

Nanana26 | July 26, 2014

Not all cars will be EV. Some will be pure EV, some will be clean Diesel, some will be Hydrogen, some will be Biofuel. It's not economically feasable to change all cars to EV, a battery will be a considerable premium cost for a long time.

Benz | July 26, 2014

@ Red Sage

As long as the first Gigafactory is not fully operational (2020?), Tesla Motors will remain production constrained. That's because they will have to rely solely on shipments of Panasonic battery cells from Japan. Plus the increasing demand for the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X (and later on the Tesla Model 3).

Your comment is very interesting though. Do you really think/expect that Tesla Motors (together with Panasonic) will introduce/unveil a next generation battery cell with a higher capacity (energy density) then the currently used battery cell, already in 2016? That would be very interesting.

I do think that in that case Tesla Motors will offer a battery pack with a higher capacity in 2016, although I think that will be a 100 kWh battery pack. Because this new 100 kWh battery pack will require fewer battery cells than the current 85 kWh battery pack with the current battery cells. They will need to apply the available number of battery cells as efficiently as possible.

And when the first Gigafactory will be fully operational, they will start to put more battery cells in their battery packs which will enable them to offer even higher battery packs (120/140/160).

Does this make any sense to you?

Red Sage ca us | July 26, 2014

A Battery of Prescient Presumptions...

Benz asked, "Do you really think/expect that Tesla Motors (together with Panasonic) will introduce/unveil a next generation battery cell with a higher capacity (energy density) then the currently used battery cell, already in 2016?"

Not only do I expect that to happen, I believe it has already happened. I've mentioned this elsewhere on the forums. I believe, though I have no evidence whatsoever, and no inside information, and this may well be nothing more than wishful thinking at best, and a [WHISKEY ALPHA GOLF] at worst, that the different varieties of battery packs (A, B, C...) that currently exist for the Tesla Model S include a significantly better battery cell array than what was first introduced in 2012.

Notice how each time there is a change to the battery balancing algorithm through firmware, some people 'lose' range, while others 'gain'? Remember how these changes drastically effected people who had a Tesla Model S 40, and elicited a lot of woeful complaints? I think that was because the new firmware is geared toward the best level of accuracy with the newest battery packs. Since the 40 kWh version, for the grand majority of owners, is actually a 60 kWh battery pack that is artificially limited through software, the algorithm changes produced more noticeable swings in reported maximum range. The effect is less pronounced with 60 kWh and 85 kWh vehicles.

I strongly suspect, as a Tesla Motors Certified Apologist Fanboy, that the newest 85 kWh battery packs actually have a capacity of ~100 kWh. They use the same number of battery cells as they always did, but the yield in energy storage is higher, and hidden, by software. The new firmware comes, some people complain about losing range, while others note they have gained range, and then anyone who actually takes their car out for a lengthy run finds that their actual, usable range is the same as it always has been.

Some complain that Tesla Motors has 'taken away' the 'miles below zero' that was in reserve through these firmware updates. Some note that the battery packs have always had a protected area of storage, meaning that you are never allowed to discharge the entire battery pack below a certain point, in order not to 'brick'<?i> it. Some expect that protected area exists both at the top and bottom ranges of charging and estimate it at around 5% of reported capacity. That would mean either: 1) that an 85 kWh battery pack has actually always been around 89 kWh, but only 85 kWh was available for use; or 2) that you would never be able to pull more than 81 kWh of power from the battery for driving. I believe the answer is closer to #1, and that the hidden capacity has been growing as the batteries approved by Tesla Motors and delivered by Panasonic have improved.

There has been no official announcement regarding any of this, and there won't be... When questioned on the subject, all Elon Musk or JB Straubel will say, if anything, is that Tesla Motors is monitoring the situation, that they feel strongly that degradation of battery packs will not be an issue, and that Customers should simply enjoy driving their cars. But if they know full well that each battery pack, whether 60 kWh or 85 kWh rated, has a maximum capacity that is growing, they can be reasonably certain that they will never fail, or brick, in the field, and that concerns about battery degradation are statistically nonexistent as a result. Basically, you'd have to Supercharge exclusively, and drive around 300,000 miles per year, driving it until it stops completely, then get a tow to the next Supercharger station, to actually damage your car's battery pack.

This all means of course, that if I'm correct... Tesla Motors could issue a firmware update that 'unlocked' the full potential of every battery pack any time they wanted. So those people that now see a maximum range of 274 miles, might see that increase to ~306; and people that see 255 miles would see it go up to ~287; and someone who sees 208, might see an improvement to ~240. Please note, I'm probably wrong.

Whether you calculate it as an ~8% improvement per year since 2008, or a ~40% improvement since 2012, either way Tesla Motors should be able to offer a really nice range of battery packs for all their cars in 2016.

Brian H | July 26, 2014

Not only are TM's batteries almost totally recyclable, they have future careers as static storage in SCs, homes, businesses, utilities. The "tail end" of usefulness after the arbitrary 70% life-cycle cutoff is even longer than the first life! JB Straubel almost bubbles when he describes the possibilities.

Benz | July 26, 2014

@ Red Sage

That makes sense. I hope that you are right.

Wow, more range through a firmware update. That would be a very nice surprise. Awesome and amazing. Just imagine the headlines in the media. More people will decide to replace their current car and buy a Tesla EV.

cantcurecancer | July 26, 2014

@Red Sage
The thing about how the battery doesn't discharge below a certain rate is at the cell level for most consumer batteries. There's very tiny circuitry in the cell that once it detects that voltage levels have dropped to some point, it will not allow you to discharge any more. That's why if you do the thing that most people tell you not to do, if you discharge a lithium ion battery down to 0%, it's going to be fine as long as that circuitry is doing its thing. But if you leave it for a few years and come back to it, it'll be toast. You can't change that stuff with a firmware update, it's at the cell level.

Of course maybe Tesla is using different batteries. They may have told Panasonic to sell Tesla 18650s without the circuitry (at a lower cost!) and we'll write the software and build the circuitry to cut off the discharge rate of the battery after a certain level.

And if that's the case, then you might be right. But then that begs the question, why did they set the level so high to begin with? If they release a firmware update that lowers the level, what are they losing now that they weren't prior to the update (e.g. are cells more susceptible to being completely discharged and unable to be recharged with the new firmware?)

Red Sage ca us | July 26, 2014

cantcurecancer: The 18650 battery cells used in the Tesla Model S do not have that individual circuitry. Tesla Motors<?b> figured out a way to control each individual battery cell in an array using a separate computer system. That is why you have so much control of your charging activities from the car's Command Center.

"Of course maybe Tesla is using different batteries. They may have told Panasonic to sell Tesla 18650s without the circuitry (at a lower cost!) and we'll write the software and build the circuitry to cut off the discharge rate of the battery after a certain level."

Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what they did. ;-)

"...why did they set the level so high to begin with?"

Relative to the batteries that were released in 2012, it wasn't very high... 2%, 3%, maybe 5%... as a buffered reserve of reported usable energy stored. The actual cells themselves have improved, I believe, over time. The same physical number of cells is still used in the battery packs. They just happen to be able to hold more of a charge than the versions that were placed in battery packs to begin with...

The software just does what it was programmed to do... Determine if it is possible to store 85 kWh of energy, then deliver it until a certain minimum threshold is breached. Then ask the driver to charge the car immediately. If they do not, then shut down to prevent being 'bricked'.

Grinnin'.VA | July 27, 2014

@nwdiver93 | JULY 25, 2014:

"2 Terafactories :)"

Something between this and 140 GigaFactories seems more likely to me.
After all, we don't want to waste tons of money shipping batteries all over the world. Just build battery factories large enough to provide the batteries needed in each major market.

Ron :)