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Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory 81

Posted by timothy
from the speculation-in-the-hills dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Earlier in the week we heard that Tesla and Panasonic had reached an agreement to build the gigafactory together, and today that became official. Now it seems that things are farther along than anyone thought. In fact, construction of the plant might already be secretly underway in Nevada. This is of course interesting as Tesla hasn't officially announced where the gigafactory will be built. Something called Project Tiger is currently underway east of Reno, and there's a lot of construction workers, heavy equipment, and a heavily guarded fenced barrier around the site. The volume of dirt being moved is 140,000 cubic yards, which matches the gigafactory dimensions given earlier this year by Tesla. Is it possible that Tesla's actually building the gigafactory before even announcing its location? It seems so, yes."
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Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory

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  • by corychristison (951993) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:49PM (#47575167)

    This does not surprise me at all.

    Elon Musk doesn't eff around. When he says he's going to do something, he does it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I was out near there last weekend. It's a massive project. The locals "know" it's the Gigafactory. Shhh, don't tell anyone!

      • by TWX (665546)
        And when it was rumored that Chrysler was introducing another brand in the early 2010s, we "knew" that Plymouth was coming back. It didn't. RAM was split from Dodge instead.

        I wait until either the formal announcement or the signs go up. Until it's official it ain't official.

        I watched some of that movie that Scorcese made about Howard Hughes last night. I couldn't help but draw parallels to Elon Musk, both in the secretiveness and the balls-to-the-wall approach when committing to a decision. We'll
        • And when it was rumored that Chrysler was introducing another brand in the early 2010s, we "knew" that Plymouth was coming back. It didn't. RAM was split from Dodge instead.

          Wow, news to me. Seriously, I am not being sarcastic. I just went to dodge.com [dodge.com] and RAM Truck was an option: but it took me to a different site [ramtrucks.com] with a warning that I was leaving dodge.com. I was not aware of this until this evening.

      • Well, at least it's one of them. I read they were already going to break ground in multiple locations while waiting for the final decision and approval. So this doesn't mean that the actual factory will be built there. Quite a bold trade-off, actually, wasting some money by starting to build in several places that may end up not being used, just to avoid having to wait for politicians to make up their minds. Elon doesn't like to waste time.

        And who knows, those locations may end up housing gigafactories as w

  • by patlabor (56309) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:53PM (#47575211)

    As reported from the same news site the following day:

    http://transportevolved.com/20... [transportevolved.com]

    • So this site, which according to the article was behind schedule and missed every major milestone, is basically closed as soon as the Panasonic partnership was announced. Maybe this site (and its mismanagement) did not meet Panasonic's needs, as they are supposed to be contributing major amounts of capital and equipment, so much so that this site had to be scrapped. /end speculation
    • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:38PM (#47575571)
      Does nobody remember this headline from a few months ago? Tesla could start on Gigafactory in 2 states, then cut 1 [rgj.com]:

      "We are going to proceed with at least two locations in parallel, just in case one of them encounters some issues after breaking ground," Musk said. He said Panasonic was likely to be Tesla's partner in battery production.

      The fact that construction started and then stopped makes it sound more like this is that - who else would do such a thing?

      • by Nimey (114278)

        That's... wow. To have the money to throw away on a partially-completed factory like that.

        • Not throw away. He is betting he'll need another gigafactory in a few years and then he'll have a foundation ready to build on.

        • by Sproggit (18426)

          "Throw away" ....
          How naive.
          The non primary sites can be sold off with preferential state ordinances and permissions intact, at a more than nominal profit.
          They would also have achieved their primary goal of maximising the same same ordinances, permissions and supply lines for the primary site through competitive leveraging.

          Nice chess move.

    • by Dr. Spork (142693)
      It is possible that this is just an interruption of work, while Musk brings in new contractors who can actually keep deadlines. According to the article, the fired construction crew missed all their construction milestones. That could be the reason for the layoffs, not a cancellation of the plans.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This has been common knowledge in the Reno area for months, and has been reported on by the local paper (Reno Gazette Journal). The workers are under a NDA, but it's too large a secret to keep.

    Work was halted last week, unclear what the significance is. But the grading (i.e. dirt-moving) is substantially complete. There is a widespread rumor that this site has been rejected. Also a rumor that the CEO of Panasonic visited the site last week.

    It seems like Tesla is playing various State governments off ea

  • Headline trifecta (Score:4, Interesting)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:01PM (#47575285)
    I was going to write something snarky about the silliness of getting excited about this one factory, of all things. But it really does hit all the right points, doesn't it: (1) the manufacturing industry in the US, (2) the geopolitics of our oil addiction and resulting involvement in the middle east, and (3) environmental harm from fossil fuels.

    Morgan Stanley is excited [qz.com] about the potential use of gigafactory batteries for home energy storage and grid independence, and thinks they might make more on that than on cars. (I would have thought good old lead acid car batteries were cheaper for this?)

    • Re:Headline trifecta (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mean pun (717227) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:21PM (#47575431)
      I have long suspected that Elon Musk is trying to provoke other companies into competing with him, exactly because he thinks that what he is doing is important beyond just making some money.
      • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:45PM (#47575633) Journal
        Also, competition stabilizes the market by allowing your competitors to market the need (i.e. the Tesla is a novelty at best, not a serious product; when Chevrolet and Honda stop dicking around with their novelty cars and start telling us all how much we need electric cars, the Tesla suddenly becomes a serious product).
        • by rahvin112 (446269)

          Not a serious product?

          He's test running all the manufacturing technology for an entirely new product category. Tesla scares the bejesus out of the car companies because he could very well come in from the side and own the entire industry because he's already patented all the technology needed to actually build these cars. Why do you think every time there is an incident with a Tesla car it makes the national news? You don't honestly believe that's just a coincidence do you?

          You can't engineer a massive toolc

          • by mean pun (717227)

            Tesla scares the bejesus out of the car companies because he could very well come in from the side and own the entire industry because he's already patented all the technology needed to actually build these cars.

            So what does Telsa do? It starts a patent pool http://www.teslamotors.com/cn/... [teslamotors.com]. To me it's another sign Elon Musk is not only motivated by the money (or simply is willing to take a more long-term view than mainstream industry).

          • Tesla scares the bejesus out of the car companies because he could very well come in from the side and own the entire industry because he's already patented all the technology needed to actually build these cars.

            Electric cars existed well before Tesla, and continue to exist outside of Tesla. Many of their patents are very niche focused, things like charging plugs (there are plenty of alternatives, used in high power connections for decades) or the like. As far as scaring, Tesla still hasn't turned a profit on their cars - they only "make" money if you include the Government redistribution of carbon taxes - which is set to expire in about 2 years. Tesla not making profit on their cars by then? Good luck after th

      • by Daetrin (576516)

        I have long suspected that Elon Musk is trying to provoke other companies into competing with him, exactly because he thinks that what he is doing is important beyond just making some money.

        Just out of curiosity, have you ever read Michael Flynn's Firestar series [wikipedia.org]? There are so many little bits from there that reminded me of SpaceX at when i reread it recently. Though apparently it's not just SpaceX, but everything Elon Musk is involved with.

      • by MattskEE (925706)

        Competition is also good for business because it increases the total size of the market, increases availability and reduces costs from 3rd party vendors (batteries, motor drives, charging stations, etc), and reduces costs of specialized labor (eventually) by growing the labor pool of engineers who design electric vehicles.

        Having a big part of a small market is not a good way to go. I think Elon's goal (in addition to any altruism on his part) is to grow the entire market and ecosystem for electric vehicles

    • Re:Headline trifecta (Score:5, Interesting)

      by halltk1983 (855209) <halltk1983@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:47PM (#47576083) Homepage Journal
      You can't use car batteries in your home. They make toxic fumes. You'd have to use marine-quality sealed batteries. And at the scale for your home, you're talking real money, usually around $5000-7500 in just batteries. They're heavy, bulky and take up a lot of room. Just think of putting 20-30 car batteries in your home. Plus you'll need to replace all of them every 3 years or so. If they can make a battery pack for $10,000 that's a fifth the size, lasts 10-15 years, and comes warrantied for use in specifically that method... that's a really big win.
      • They are not going to be making lead acid batteries for use with an ICE, they are making lithium batteries suitable for the cars they make, as well as stuff like electronics and home use. Side note; Car batteries work just fine, if you properly plan and have them somewhere with proper venting. Lots of people have solar/Lead-acid/inverter setups in their homes now. I would imagine it is the most common setup.

        • Car batteries are good for about 6-10 deep cycles before they are done.

          You may not need sealed lead acid batteries, but you need deep cycle.

          • Don't deep cycle them. Never deep cycle litium chemistry batteries. That kills them. 5-95% is sufficient and the voltage drop, while a disadvantage in many simple circuits, provides a clear indicator of the remaining capacity.
            If the hexagonal lattice anodes work out as hoped the duration could be increased significantly.

            • 5-95% is deep cycling for a lead-acid car battery. They like to start the car then get recharged.

              Your cheapest option for a decent deep cycle lead acid battery is going to be a trolling motor boat battery.

              Lithium is still cost prohibitive for non-mobile applications.

              Any good sized battery bank is a hazard. Think of it as an arc welder that's always powered up.

  • by magarity (164372) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:01PM (#47575287)

    For every person who wants the factory built nearby for the economic impact, there's a certain ratio of people who don't want it built nearby for whatever reason; traffic, worries about industrial accidents, whatever. So if they're smart, yes, they're already way too far along building to get it stopped by protests.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Reno Tahoe industrial park is in its own area ( the largest industrial park in the world ), you won't hear about a lot of local residents upset by construction noise / traffic. Its got its own dedicated highway to connect I80 and 395, so truck traffic doesn't clog up the freeways. This is an amazing opportunity, I better clean up my resume.

  • It's the NSA's off-site backup array for the Utah Data Center. No, wait, it's Larry Ellison's new personal space port. Or Harry Reid's new personal Mustang Ranch. On the other hand, it could be a shovel-ready stimulus hole in the ground...

    No more hydraulic lunches for me. Sorry.

  • What about water? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by admiralh (21771) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:13PM (#47575379) Homepage

    Considering the water issues the West is currently having, is it really a good idea to build this in the middle of a desert?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You don't have to read the article, just search in it for the word "water".

      Water is not a concern, even in the desert around Silver Peak, as the lithium bearing brine is underground and pumped to the surface where the water evaporates to expose the lithium minerals for further processing.

  • No, just another NSA data farm. Even high density modern storage media sags under the mighty volume of texts fired at 1914 Maxim machine gun speeds by teenage girls and SnapChat selfies flying through the ether.
     

    • Nothing new....

      "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

      --- Shakespeare.

  • You fools, this is happy fun reeducation camp #1 for Muskianity. This is where people judged to be unfit to join his new world order on Mars will be forced to build hyperloop components and cybernetic carbon sequestration modules. Expect the stolen NASA Space Shuttle to turn up there.

    A recent invention by a noted inventor, 49-year-old scientist Dean Kamen, is generating excitement and mystery. "IT", is so extraordinary, that it has drawn the attention of technology visionaries Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Steve Jobs (Apple) and the investment dollars of pre-eminent Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, and Credit Suisse First Boston, among others. Those who have seen the two prototypes have been variously amazed, delighted, surprised and awestruck. Jeff Bezos is reported to have snorted uncontrollably (his laugh sounds like a pig snorting).

    Kamen, who was just awarded the National Medal of Technology (the highest such award in the US) has been called "a combination of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison". John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, the noted VC who funded the launch of companies like Sun, Lotus, Compaq and Netscape, says that he had been sure that he wouldn't see the development of anything in his lifetime as important as the World Wide Web - until he saw IT. Another investor, Credit Suisse First Boston, expects Kamen's invention to make more money in its first year than any start-up in history, predicting Kamen will be worth more in five years than Bill Gates. Jobs told Kamen that IT would be as significant as the PC (high praise indeed from Jobs, who feels that he originated the PC).

  • can't he just supply us all with the water that he's drinking so we can all move along? Seriously I want what he's drinking...

  • This does not meet the American Congress's mandate that all new factories of any size be built in China to pad the pockets of their prime contributors. They will be sure to pass a new law to close the facility and off shore it. The law will be signed into being by George-W-come-lately, President Obama.

    Who do they think they are creating jobs in North America? If this were anyone else, it would be created in back country China by Foxconn and we all would LIKE IT! Or we'd be told we like it in some religious

  • I think I may go out and do some drone recon on it this weekend, see what's really going on. As long as I just use my GoPro to record video onboard and LoS for tracking, but don't use my FatShark [fatshark.com] it's not a drone and it's OK, right FAA?
  • Gigafactory is kind of a lame name... I think they should call it "Area 52"...

  • running in 2017. If it really is "giga" it damn well better be under construction already.

  • In all seriousness, why is this being called a "Gigafactory"? How does this differ from a regular factory? Did I miss the kilofactories and megafactories?
    • They are building DeLoreans, which require gigafactories (pronounced with an initial soft G).
    • As I understand it - the aim is to make of the order of 10^9 - one billion - lithium cells a year.
      That's enough cells to go in 200K small electric cars, or about 60K of the high capacity Tesla 85kWh packs.

    • by slew (2918)

      The name 'Gigafactory' is a shortcut for a battery factory capable of over a gigawatt-hour of annual production capacity.

      In the case of Musk's proposed factory, it's projected to be capable of producing enough battery cells to store 35GWh of energy in a year. Since Tesla's Model S have 85kWh batteries, if you want to make a new line of car that sells more than 10,000 cars/year you can probably use a factory with the capacity of a Gigafactory (or multiple production lines of a smaller factory).

      Some folks es

  • They're building it at the Burning Man site. That place is chock full of engineers.
  • Considering that there are five states competing to host this factory - including California, which is quietly trying to put together a package that would fast-track environmental study requirements and provide tax incentives - and that the competition hasn't even heated up yet, it seems unlikely that this is the gigafactory.

    Tesla and Panasonic need to keep everyone guessing, as that's the very best way to secure more tax benefits and incentives.

  • Actually, it's Elon Musks own Battery Theme Park, with hookers, and blackjack. In fact, forget the batteries!!!
  • Sounds to me like the Carson Sink would be a good place to move Silicon Valley firms, too. Here, let me help you out, which way did you come in? Maybe then we could grow produce in Santa Clara Valley again, once they dig up all the concrete and knock down the tite-ups; hey wait for the next M. 7.2 quake on the Calavaras Fault, that'll help. But then you'd have to clean up all the Superfund Sites left by the electronics business before you could replant a single plum tree.

    So, Carson Sink is a no-way-out d

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