Tesla CEO Elon Musk was one of the guests at a three-day EU battery cell manufacturing conference that began Tuesday. In an early video interview in his native California, he confirmed that the Gigafactory under construction near Berlin will also produce battery cells – more than anywhere else in the world, as he now added. But there is still a lot to be done: Almost all of the systems for Tesla’s cell factory have yet to be developed. And many of the special machines needed would come from Germany and other European countries, Musk said.
Tesla boss wants 250 gigawatt hours
He had previously announced that the German Gigafactory will be the first location where Tesla will produce its own cells in XL format 4680 for the first time on a large scale. Now he gave the numbers. Initially, the capacity should be 100 gigawatt hours per year, said Musk. That alone will make Giga Berlin “possibly” the largest cell factory in the world. For later, Tesla is even aiming for 200-250 gigawatt hours per year. From this point on he was “confident” that cell production in Grünheide near Berlin would be the largest in the world.
The Tesla boss did not provide any information on the timing. According to previous information, the electric car part of the German Gigafactory should start production of Model Y in mid-2021, which should then be equipped with the new Tesla cells. For the time being, however, they should come from the cell pilot plant next to the main plant in Fremont.
If the pilot line in the USA remains the only source for 4680 cells until the start of cell production in the Giga Berlin, the number of Model Ys from the German factory is likely to remain limited for a while. Because after Musk’s statements, Brandenburg’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Jörg Steinbach, spoke on Twitter and said that he was pleased about Tesla’s trust. He was “looking forward to the detailed plans of the company”, wrote the minister kindly – which should also mean that Tesla has not yet presented anything of the kind.
Today’s post by @elonmusk at the European Battery Conference confirms its September announcement. We are delighted that Tesla has placed its trust in the Brandenburg location and look forward to the company’s detailed plans. https://t.co/DgTcJZGbYp
– Jörg Steinbach (@joergstb) November 24, 2020
Building the whole factory for your own cell is much more difficult than a few prototypes for it, Musk said in the video interview. This is all the more true as it is full of innovations because it has to be extremely large and fast to reduce costs. “We have to develop new types of equipment for almost every aspect of the production system,” explained the Tesla boss. And that’s why he apparently chose the German location. Most of the special machines needed do not even exist, but they are currently being developed, many of them in Germany and other European countries, he said.
German technology for dry electrodes
Musk named technology for dry coating of electrodes as a concrete innovation, which brings completely new rules to the game in cell production and also makes it less environmentally sensitive. With Maxwell Technologies, Tesla took over a US company that was working on it in early 2019. According to information from teslamag.de, Tesla commissioned the German company Saueressig, which was involved in at least one research project on dry electrode production, for the installation of machines in the pilot plant in Fremont, in the Giga Berlin and later in China.