The production of lithium-ion battery cells began at Tesla’s massive Nevada Gigafactory earlier this month, but in the future, the factory will make more than just batteries. As announced by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval last night, and reported by Fortune and the Reno Gazette-Journal, Tesla is adding production for electric motors and gearbox components for its mass-market Model 3 sedan to the factory.
This expanded production will lead to 550 new jobs at the factory and an extra $350 million in investment, said Sandoval during his State of the State speech. He thanked Tesla for “doubling down” on its commitment in Nevada, and said the company had already provided economic growth in the area.
Tesla currently employs 1,000 full-time workers at the Gigafactory, with an additional 2,000 construction workers involved in building the site. When finished, the factory will be as large as 107 NFL football fields, offering more than 10 million square feet of operational space. At the moment, the site is approximately a third complete, with 4.9 million square feet of operational space spread over different floors.
"We consider [the factory] to be a product. The factory itself is the machine that builds the machine," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last July. "It actually deserves more attention from creative problem solving engineers than the product that it makes." Creative problem solving was also evident in the deals made between Tesla and Nevada that underpinned the factory’s creation. The automaker agreed to create some 6,500 jobs in the state and in return received an incentives package (including job credits and cuts to sales and property tax) of at least $1.3 billion.
Both batteries and motor components made at the Gigafactory will be shipped to Tesla’s Fremont, California factory, where the Model 3 sedan is assembled. Tesla says its aim is to build 500,000 cars a year by 2018, but it will need to step up production significantly to achieve this goal. Last year the company shipped some 76,230 cars — falling just short of its 80,000 target for the year.