Elon Musk and his gigadream
There are different opinions about Elon Musk. But I’m sure that everyone will agree on this one of his features – impetus. Impetus, which was also a base for his Tesla gigafactory built in Nevada. It is the feature, which is also an engine for the plans of electric car production.
The first Tesla gigafactory was established in the US, Nevada, in 2014, in cooperation with its main partner, Panasonic. The operational space of the factory is 492,000 square metres. Illustratively, in such a factory there is enough room for the entire Vatican, five Red Squares or nearly sixty-nine Wembley pitches.
And the whole of this huge area is dedicated to the production of electric cars. The plant produces batteries and engines for Tesla cars, as well as various devices related to energy storage. This is involved with Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy with increasingly affordable electric vehicles and energy products. Production in Nevada is expected to reduce electric car batteries price by 30 per cent.
The location of the factory is not accidental. It has been tested that the dry and warm air of Nevada is ideal for the production of batteries. Building the factory was a real challenge obviously. New roads had to be a chart to allow construction machinery, and now workers, to get to the factory. (Now, to move inside the factory, workers ride bicycles).
Elon Musk calls it a “machine building machine”. Although already huge, the factory is still to be expanded and fully powered by renewable energy sources. The entire building will be covered with 200,000 photovoltaic panels (Musk is the main investor and board member of SolarCity – a cousin-led company producing photovoltaic cells), and heat pumps will be responsible for heating and cooling the building. In addition, the whole system will be supplemented with large electricity storage facilities, which will enable the factory to operate continuously throughout the year, regardless of the weather. What’s more – this is not the end! There are more such Tesla giga-factories in the world. The next ones were built (or are still being built) in New York, Shanghai, Berlin and Austin. There is also talk of India.
How will Tesla affect the transport industry?
The emergence of such a large initiative and the undoubted high motivation of this extraordinary (and rich) visionary to cross new barriers must significantly affect many industries. One of them is undoubtedly transport and logistics. First of all, Gigafactory needs a lot of raw materials and semi-products that must be delivered there from all over the world. On the other hand, the final products should be delivered in the opposite direction – to the growing and growing group of electric vehicle enthusiasts around the world. Managing such a supply chain is a huge challenge. Musk himself says that the scale of the operation is crazy – millions of cars, a huge supply chain in 50 countries and dozens of regulatory systems.
Elon Musk plans to lower the prices of electric batteries and, consequently, the vehicles themselves. The first expensive and luxurious models that were rolled off Tesla’s production lines were supposed to finance the costs of the development of cheaper models. In fact, the newest one, model 3 (which was released in 2017) in its basic version, was valued at 35,000 US dollars. Such a policy may result in an increase of the already growing demand for electric cars. Ultimately, the factories are to produce 500,000 electric vehicles per year. As BusinessInsider mentioned, in 2020 this result was almost achieved, and for 2021 the goal raised to 750,000 units. It is worth adding that in 2019 the total number of registered electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the world was less than eight million (almost half of which are in China).
Tesla aims even further – they want to produce electrically powered trucks. The prototype was developed in 2017 and is currently in series production. The truck will travel from 400 to 800 km on a single charge, depending on the version. 2,500 Tesla Semi Electric trucks are planned to roll off the Tesla assembly line this year. An interesting fact of this model is that the driver’s seat is located in the middle of the cabin. The reason is to avoid producing separate models for markets with right and left-hand traffic. Will the vehicle convince the transport industry? Who knows! Undoubtedly, the tightening regulations related to the prevention of environmental pollution may favour the demand.
While speaking of the influence of Elon Musk on the transport industry, we can’t ignore investments in “reusable” spacecraft carried out by SpaceX. With the attempts of so many countries to conquer space and exploit the deposits located there, the word “transport” may soon become a permanent fixture in the needs of the space sector.