Tesla, the electric carmaker and energy storage behemoth, is planning to expand past American soil and open a second “Gigafactory”—this time in Europe, according to CEO Elon Musk. In addition to batteries, “Gigafactory 2” will also make the vehicles themselves, fully integrating the production process under one huge roof to be covered in solar cells.
As a refresher, the Gigafactory concept involves a massive, solar-powered and semi-automated facility capable of producing enough lithium-ion batteries for more than half a million Tesla cars a year. Gigafactory 2 will cover everything that the recently opened Gigafactory 1 does—battery cells, Powerwall units, and vehicle battery packs—plus electric cars.
This announcement comes after Tesla’s recent acquisition of German firm Grohmann Engineering, which specializes in automated manufacturing and will now be renamed Tesla Grohmann Automation.
Tesla has been ramping up its production exponentially— production rate at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California went up 400 percent in four years and the plant aims to produce half a million cars per year by 2018, according to a statement from the company. Grohmann’s automated manufacturing technology is expected to help with high-volume production and scale back costs. In short, Musk is moving ever closer to his manufacturing dream of building “a machine that builds the machine”.
In the long-term, Musk plans to have at least one, if not two or three, integrated battery and vehicle production facilities in Europe. However, it may take some time before the Gigafactory 2 comes into fruition as Musk will only determine a location next year. For the moment, Tesla is focused developing its latest car, Model 3, which is expected to launch mid-year next year and go into full production by the end of 2017.