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Tesla Gigafactory Begins Production (reuters.com) 201

Thelasko writes: Right on schedule, Tesla's Gigafactory has begun production of battery cells. The fact that the factory has opened on schedule has surprised many critics of the company. Reuters reports: "Electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc has started mass production of lithium-ion battery cells at its gigafactory in Nevada along with Japan's Panasonic Corp, the company said on Wednesday. The cylindrical '2170 cells,' which will be used to power Tesla's energy storage products and the new Model 3 sedan, have been jointly designed by Tesla and Panasonic, its longstanding battery partner. The gigafactory will initially produce battery cells for the company's Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products, Tesla said. The factory is expected to drive down the cost of battery packs by more than 30 percent, the company has said. At peak production, the gigafactory is expected to employ 6,500 workers and create between 20,000 and 30,000 additional jobs in the surrounding regions, Tesla said."
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Tesla Gigafactory Begins Production

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  • Am I the only person here who took this long to realize that Tesla cars are powered by what amounts to a shitload of flashlight batteries wired up in a tub?
    • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @08:30PM (#53607629)

      Am I the only person here who took this long to realize that Tesla cars are powered by what amounts to a shitload of flashlight batteries wired up in a tub?

      It's actually an excellent system for a low price. The cells are insulated and have a cooling system so as to maintain a optimal temperature. Furthermore, as cells age and get a open/short or bad cell, the pack rewires itself around the trouble allowing it to gradually fail gracefully unlike simple packs. Finally tesla and the government want these to be cheap so they offer massive subsidies and car companies like tesla sell them at a loss so as to not turn people off with a 30 thousand dollar price tag (like it would be marked up for general purpose at a typical company). It's a good deal for the money given today's tech.

      • Import marked up lithium film from China after paying Chinese export tax, then trying to compete with Chinese cell makers.

      • by fubarrr ( 884157 )

        >It's actually an excellent system for a low price.

        I don't think so. Bigger cells are invariably better priced per W/h except if they come in exotic sizes. Chinese themselves have switches to LiFePo4 chemistry from LiCo or LiC (conventional li-ion) for all big cells years ago. Musk and co. will have to play catch-up hard, and they will have to retool the assembly line in the future invariably unless they want to produce worse cells, at higher than the market price...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You need lots of cells to balance the pack. Li-ion are finicky. That's one reason the giga factory is so large: you need a huge inventory because (1) the cells need to age and (2) the more cells you have the easier you can find a matched set for a well balanced battery. Tesla batteries perform really well, in part because of the effort that goes into selecting the cells that go into each one.

        • Yeah, I'm sure they didn't bother doing any CBA or before building a $5B factory. Hopefully someone at Tesla will see your post and save their business before it's too late!

          • I hope so. Americans tend to be lamers at doing business, but Musk is African though.

            • by Hodr ( 219920 )

              WTF? If there is any single area where "Americans" excel, it's business. Not the most enthusiastic laborers, the most vibrant artists, the most ingenious scientists, nor the most precise engineers. But they are fucking good at business.

    • by haruchai ( 17472 )

      Am I the only person here who took this long to realize that Tesla cars are powered by what amounts to a shitload of flashlight batteries wired up in a tub?

      Laptop, not flashlight. Popular Science featured the Roadster and its batteries in its May 2007 article, "Can 6,831 laptop batteries change the world?"
      And the answer to your question is "You probably are"

      • by subk ( 551165 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:05PM (#53607739)

        Laptop, not flashlight.

        Ok, if you want to be pedantic, laptop AND flashlight battery.. Not to mention e-cigs, bluetooth speakers, and a zillion other things the nearly ubiquitous 18650 is used for.

        • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

          I would imagine that eCigs use something way smaller than an 18650 cell, they're nearly an inch wide and two and a half inches long.

          • by subk ( 551165 )
            Well, then you should stop imagining things. 18650 is by far the most popular battery for nicotine vaporizing devices. Nothing else even comes close to being popular.
          • by jo7hs2 ( 884069 )
            You would imagine wrong then, the 18650 is THE cell for eCigs. I know because my brother-in-law vapes and has the things laying around everywhere, which I find mildly disturbing. Regardless, a quick Google search shows plenty of proof. http://ecigarettereviewed.com/... [ecigarettereviewed.com] http://vaping360.com/top-5-186... [vaping360.com] https://www.vapinginsider.com/... [vapinginsider.com]
          • by swb ( 14022 )

            18650s are the go-to cell for contemporary sub-ohm vaporizers because they can deliver the high current needed to drive a half-ohm or smaller coil at 25+ watts and you can swap out batteries easily.

            The fixed-battery "pen" size vaporizers of the older generation used something else but their batteries weren't replaceable and they worked at basically whatever the float voltage was into 1.5-2.5 ohm coils.

            The really insane high wattage vapers seem to use fixed battery devices and I don't know what's in them, bu

    • by Black.Shuck ( 704538 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:19PM (#53607789)

      Am I the only person here who took this long to realize that Tesla cars are powered by what amounts to a shitload of flashlight batteries wired up in a tub?

      "Why, the fax-machine ain't nothin' but a waffle-iron with a phone attached!"

    • Am I the only person here who took this long to realize that Tesla cars are powered by...

      Pretty much. Your geek card is on probation.

    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      No

  • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @08:20PM (#53607571)

    I understand that they are making these primarily for cars, but does Tesla have any plans to make consumer-friendly Lithium-ion batteries for general use? Seems like they could easily make these, and drive down the costs of these things pretty dramatically. Looking quickly on Google, general-use batteries seem to run hundreds of dollars. I'd be interested in one for various purposes if it dropped down into a $50-$100 range.

    • by jezwel ( 2451108 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @08:27PM (#53607613)
      The biggest individual cost for electric cars seems to be the batteries. Elon wants to replace combustion based vehicles with electric. He will need tens to hundreds of Gigafactories to meet demand, plus is also prioritising Powerwalls. I highly doubt the general purpose battery market is on the radar yet.
    • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @08:36PM (#53607649)

      I understand that they are making these primarily for cars, but does Tesla have any plans to make consumer-friendly Lithium-ion batteries for general use? Seems like they could easily make these, and drive down the costs of these things pretty dramatically. Looking quickly on Google, general-use batteries seem to run hundreds of dollars. I'd be interested in one for various purposes if it dropped down into a $50-$100 range.

      Aside from the PowerWall / PowerPacks, I think that'll be left to Panasonic and I'm betting it may be written into their agreements.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The chemistry of the Tesla cells probably makes them useless for general purpose consumer cells, so Panasonic likely won't bother using that factory for them. Tesla can carefully manage the cells, limiting them to 95% maximum charge and temperature controlling them. Consumer cells get more abuse so the chemistry has to be more robust.

        • by haruchai ( 17472 )

          "The chemistry of the Tesla cells probably makes them useless for general purpose consumer cells"
          They're not tied to a single chemistry. The original PowerWalls were using nickel-manganese for the 6.4 kWh & nickel-cobalt for the 10 kWh units.
          The cars use other formulations - the Roadster's pack chemistry is different from the Model S
          This is the benefit of having such a close relationship with Panasonic - a lot of battery expertise close at hand.

    • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:52PM (#53607897)

      I understand that they are making these primarily for cars, but does Tesla have any plans to make consumer-friendly Lithium-ion batteries for general use?

      It seems unlikely. Panasonic agreed to create the 2170 form factor specifically for Tesla. Tesla likes have large numbers of smaller, cylindrical cells because they can build packs out of them that give them finer control and better cooling than the large monolithic cells you seem to be referring to (very imprecisely). They're just a little bit bigger in both dimensions than an 18650 in order to improve the power density of the packs, while not losing the aforementioned advantages.

      Because it's a custom Tesla-specific cell form factor, it's very likely a Tesla-exclusive contract as well. Panasonic is making these in a Tesla factory for Tesla, and nobody else. So when you start seeing advertising for Panasonic 2170 cells on Alibaba, don't try to buy them. They'll be fake. You're unlikely to see any real new 2170 bare cells on the open market. What you may see are used ones coming from someone buying a wrecked Tesla and tearing apart the battery pack. What you'll probably see is a noticeable drop in the price of 18650 cells. Tesla will be transitioning the Model S and Model X to redesigned packs with the new form factor (whether or not they announced it—it's just how they roll). That will significantly reduce worldwide demand for 18650s. Unless some cartel behavior comes into play, prices should fall.

      • What you'll probably see is a noticeable drop in the price of 18650 cells. Tesla will be transitioning the Model S and Model X to redesigned packs with the new form factor (whether or not they announced itâ"it's just how they roll). That will significantly reduce worldwide demand for 18650s. Unless some cartel behavior comes into play, prices should fall.

        That's not really how supply and demand works at this level. Show me the warehouses full of $1 CompactFlash cards, now that TF/SD have replaced them

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          There are two major faulty assumptions in this argument. Firstly that demand for 18650 cells is flat. If demand for 18650 cells is growing even the loss of a major user like Tesla could no long term impact on prices and potentially very little short term impact either.

          The second major faulty assumption is Tesla get's their batteries for Panasonic, and Panasonic are heavily involved in the Gigafactory. The idea the managers at Panasonic can't see the writing on the wall and adjust production accordingly is n

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Tesla will be transitioning the Model S and Model X to redesigned packs with the new form factor (whether or not they announced itâ"it's just how they roll).

        Well they also plan to produce 100k Model 3s this year, so I guess that depends on whether the Gigafactory can ramp up quick enough. Eventually it will certainly happen but if the 3s eat all the new capacity there's no urgent need to switch.

    • by es330td ( 964170 )
      The number of cars Musk wants to make will consume the entire production of this plant. He had to build this plant to be able to build cars.
    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      Indirectly, it is going to be making a huge difference for consumer cells. Most importantly, all of the production capacity that has been sucked up by Tesla for building their automobiles is going to be available for other folks (likely to be snatched up by other automobile companies for awhile) but in the long run it will simply imply that the whole market for Lithium-ion batteries is going to grow as a whole. All of the chemicals (besides Lithium) are also going to be made in much larger quantities, the

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I'm surprised that nobody has marketed a DIY battery in the same form factor as a 12v car battery run by an array of 18650s with all the expected charging circuits and the ability to "rewire" around dead cells automatically.

      Your standard car battery shell seems like it could hold a lot of 18650s.

  • ... energy that has been fabricated by minerals and ores extracted by, and processed in plants powered by, fossil fuels.

    God: "No, you can't get past the fucking 2nd law."

    • by dfsmith ( 960400 )
      God added: "Aren't you lucky that I created a giant source of readily available low-entropy radiation just 91 million miles away?"
    • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @08:42PM (#53607671)

      ... energy that has been fabricated by minerals and ores extracted by, and processed in plants powered by, fossil fuels.

      God: "No, you can't get past the fucking 2nd law."

      Does that include fossil nukes, hydro-fossilized or geothermalized petroleum plants?
      We *can* phase out fossil fuels, just not yet but we can cut our usage drastically. We had to use other energy sources to kickstart our use of coal & oil; this is not different just on a much larger scale.

      • You had the time and interest but you repeated what I said.

        • You had the time and interest but you repeated what I said.

          Now please tell me you were joking, because no one has seriously tried to invoke 2LD since the strong 2LD concept leads to an almost immediate ending.

        • by haruchai ( 17472 )

          You had the time and interest but you repeated what I said.

          I was heading off what looked to be the start of another screed that those who want others to reduce waste/pollution/GHGs should first stop breathing or drop dead themselves.
          Because freedom / God / my ancestors or some such shite.

          If that's not where you were going, then I'll withdraw the comment.
          Otherwise, it stands as is.

    • (Where did all of those fossil fuels get their energy from in the first place?)

      • (Where did all of those fossil fuels get their energy from in the first place?)

        The Koch Brothers and Jeebuz.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Jeebuz buring all of those dinosaur fossils in the ground and giving them suspiciously old radioisotope ratios was the best prank ever.

          • Jeebuz buring all of those dinosaur fossils in the ground and giving them suspiciously old radioisotope ratios was the best prank ever.

            We laugh, but there have been some folks who actually believe that. Variation 1 is Satan putting them there.

    • It will be powered by renewable ... energy that has been fabricated by minerals and ores extracted by, and processed in plants powered by, fossil fuels.

      Last I heard, solar panels pay off their manufacturing energy costs in less than a year.

      BUT no one in their right mind uses the high-quality photovoltaic power for the bulk of the ore processing and other manufacturing processes, especially those that require heat. (If you want to power THAT by the sun you use a thermal collector. You get several times the

      • Then there's their share of building the grid itself: Plant construction (and mining and processing raw materials for it), transformers, wires, insulators, meters, and so on. Cutting trees for poles. Cutting trees for clearance for the wires. Fuel for the machinery that did it, and for taking workers to/from the sites. Using up land for grid right-of-ways.

        Stop the train right there. Every time solar power is brought up on Slashdot some genius will point out that the sun never sets on Earth, it just moves around. For solar to work then all we need to do is run some high voltage DC lines and spread that solar power goodness world wide. This then means cutting down trees for utility poles and clearing right of way.

        If you are going to pull this nonsense in defense of solar power then you are opposing so many others that defend solar power. It's either we nee

        • by shilly ( 142940 )

          Nuclear power ... kills fewer people per energy produced.

          FFS. If things go really, catastrophically wrong with a solar panel installation, how many people could it conceivably kill? One or two if it fell off a roof? Whereas, if things go really, catastrophically wrong with a nuclear power plant, how many people could it conceivably kill? Bearing in mind that no production pebble bed reactors are in operation anywhere.

          Tilting at strawmen rather than acknowledging the actual safety concerns people have about nuclear makes you look like a shite imitation of Don Quix

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @10:08PM (#53607985) Journal

    cylindrical '2170 cells,'

    You're an order of magnitude off there, chief. That would be a hearing-aid battery. They're actually making 21700 cells. Tesla sometimes calls them "'21-70", but omitting the dash and concatenating the numbers makes no sense.

    No big deal, I suppose, just a little typo... I still look forward to buying a $350,000 (3350 eur) Tesla Model 3, with its impressive 21 mile (3460km) range and 1550 mph (25kph) top-speed.

  • I assume something called a GigaFactory will be 3-D printed by drones and be a self-aware AI.

Unix will self-destruct in five seconds... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Working...