What will the construction of its new Tesla "Gigafabriki"?
CEO Tesla Elon Musk. Photo: Jim Merithew / WIRED i>
When I first saw the car Tesla, he was pulled to the chassis and is the embodiment of a bare metal advanced model Roadster, shown in one of the events in Silicon Valley. In a small two-seater frame, which does not need an internal combustion engine, almost all the space occupied by a huge battery. The first thought that came to my mind then: "It looks like a huge cell phone on wheels».
It turns out that I do not understand how I was right.
This week, years after the show, Tesla announced plans to build "Gigafabriki" - a plant for the production of automotive batteries, an area of 2 square meters. kilometer. The company hopes that the enormous scale of the enterprise, together with the ingenuity of engineers will lead to a significant reduction in the price of batteries, which will make its vehicles available to the public.
However, the hype surrounding "Gigafabriki" is caused not only by the prospect of the future without the use of fossil fuels. The same as conventional lithium-ion batteries, which feed Tesla cars today are used in most mobile gadgets, from small to large. If Tesla really will produce batteries in the promised amounts machines can be far from the only type of products that the company will produce. One day, Tesla could be a company that supplies electricity to all that it may require, from the phone in your pocket to power as such.
Earlier this month it was rumored that Apple, may want to buy a Tesla. The newspaper San Francisco Chronicle писала, that Elon Musk did meet with the manufacturer iPhones. Musk later подтвердил, that Apple and Tesla were negotiating, but he will not say what it was.
Now that Tesla announced the construction of "Gigafabriki" it makes sense to discuss with Apple is not a potential purchase, but something else, an analyst at Gartner automotive industry Thilo Koslovsky. "Depending on the production capacity of the factory and the person who will act as investors, Tesla can begin to release their batteries are not only for cars but also for other products - says Koslovsky. - It may also mean that Tesla will produce batteries for Apple. »
Batteries that are better and cheaper h4>
In order to begin construction of its factory, Tesla, according to her statements, you will need to attract loan на worth $ 1.6 billion - the amount of money that Apple itself could easily afford, to withdraw it from its huge cash reserves. In fact, the world's largest company could easily pay all construction entirely, which is based on the calculations of Tesla eventually will cost 4 to 5 billion dollars. Despite the fact that, according to industry experts, the world production of batteries for consumer electronics has reached a considerable size, the system of this scale, as promised Tesla, will allow Apple to gain access to a completely different level of efficiency, quality and production control.
Unlike many other areas of consumer electronics, factory producing elements of the electric power, for the most part, very automated. This means that the labor costs are not greatly affect manufacturing cost. Anyone who has seen action in automated assembly line in the factory Tesla confirms that automation is just one of those things Tesla who is able to do very, very well. Deep involvement in the project since its inception, as, say, an investor can Apple provide a very close co-operation with the supplier, to which she aspires. This kind of control over the production process - one of the moments that define Apple's approach to the creation of its products. For consumers, this would mean that the battery Apple receive better quality which thus will cost less. And it's the same as what he wants and Tesla for their cars.
Layout "Gigafabriki" that Tesla plans to feed the solar and wind energy. Image: Tesla i>
But even if "Gigafabrika" did not produce a single battery for the iPhone, it will have a huge impact on the approach to storing energy. The company says that as soon as the plant is fully operational, the number of produced lithium-ion batteries will more than double compared to the number of batteries produced today. Industry analyst, Sam Yaffey of Navigant Research, said that the fall in prices predicted by Tesla is quite in line with forecasts of Navigant Research. According to them cheaper batteries allow Tesla closer to its core mission to create a public electric vehicle for the mass market, which Tesla refers to as "third generation" and calls the Model E. «The whole point of the company's existence was precisely in the creation of this model itself, it is such a car, - says Yaffey. - They did not set out to make sports cars or cars class "luxury". All this is done in order to create a family car, which would be comparable in price with gasoline models ».
To enter this mass market, Tesla hopes to drive through the 2020 production number of batteries that can provide assembly of 500,000 cars a year. Compare this to the 35,000 units Model S, which the company expects to release this year. Achieving this goal would mean not only a large number of electric vehicles on the road, but also a much larger number of batteries that will need to be replaced. Batteries that nourish Tesla, very similar to the Smartphone: at some point, their reserve capacity falls. But unlike smartphones loss of 30-40% of the charge for an electric vehicle would not just inconvenience. Drivers in this case, the risk of getting stuck in the middle of the road, away from civilization. Tesla claims that it plans to include the processing of the production cycle "Gigafabriki" that would allow to save on costs.
The opportunity to become part of the infrastructure of power h4>
However, among other things, Koslovsky believes that these old batteries could be part of a dynamic secondary market. They could, for example, be used to store energy generated by solar home power grid, in which they can find the full application, and which will not have to travel.
Tesla already supplies battery packs companies SolarCity, engaged in the installation of solar panels, the chairman of which is itself Elon Musk. The Company believes that its products in the future will be able to serve as backup storage of energy even для utilities themselves . C Wall Street analysts are confident in raising this market even predict that in addition to supporting the power supply system based on renewable energy sources, Tesla could put all their knowledge in the field of automotive, batteries and creating digital technologies together and become a leading manufacturer self-cars.
Of course all this can happen only if "Gigafabrika" will achieve results that says Tesla. Consultant in the field of battery production KM Abrahem believes that in order to achieve lower prices, the company will have to find a way to make your batteries so that the cost of suppliers not increased since the latter will have to increase the volume to meet the demand of the company. "As long as you find new cheap materials, the price of batteries will remain at the same level," - says Abrahem, who also is a professor of renewable technologies in the Northeastern University.
Although Tesla almost did not disclose details, демонстрационные materials , issued by the company show that it plans to maximize as much as possible, to focus the entire production process in the walls "Gigafabriki." Tesla also promises to provide the greatest possible area of the factory of wind and solar energy, which makes it a potential opportunity to test their own products as part of the electricity system. Diversification applications can also play a key role, if demand for automotive products company does not coincide with its own expectations. Construction of the factory of such enormous size - big risk, especially when it produces only one type of product, but this risk is reduced if the company will be able to apply their knowledge and build batteries for various applications. And if we discard all the other doubts, Tesla creates unprecedented project, just to see what will happen when the energy will be mobile.
"Captures the spirit of the thought of the scale of it all, - says Yaffey about" Gigafabrike "- I do not know any other projects that could be compared with this."