Tesla Gigafactory: take a close look with a new drone video

We get our closest and most beautiful look at the progress made at Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada in a while –  thanks to a new drone video by Duncan Sinfield.

It might not be as obvious as when the structure went up, but things have been moving at the factory lately.

We recently reported on several new building permits acquired by Tesla for the Gigafactory project in Sparks, Nevada.

The current construction projects appear to be focused on the interior of the massive factory where Panasonic is now manufacturing battery cells for Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack, and more recently also for the Model 3. Separately, Tesla is also manufacturing the Model 3 drive unit on location.

Based on the building permits, new projects inside include tooling for the expansion of battery cell production and smaller projects, like a “microgrid lab” and new equipment for the drive unit production line.

While the work seems focused on the inside, this new drove flyover by Sinfield shows that Tesla almost completed the small new section on the north side:

I say “small”, but that’s in comparison to the other Gigafactory sections, which seem to be about 4 times bigger.

Prior to this small addition, which is the only new structure so far this year, the overall structure had a 1.9 million square-foot footprint. Including several levels, the factory currently is about 4.9 million square feet of operational space. This represents only ~30 percent of the total finished Gigafactory.

Once completed (expected around 2020), Tesla plans for Gigafactory 1 to be the largest building on earth by footprint by a significant margin.

Last week, CEO Elon Musk estimated that it is in third place in term of footprint in the world as it currently stands.

The CEO also suggested that Tesla is considering moving more of the powertrain production from Fremont to Gigafactory. They currently produce the Model 3 drive unit at the plant, but they could also add Model S and Model X drive unit production in order to make space in Fremont for more Model 3 production.

Tesla is aiming to produce enough batteries at Gigafactory 1 next year (35 GWh of cells and 50 GWh of packs) in order to achieve an annual production rate of roughly 500,000 vehicles per year.

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