Tech

Tesla planning new Semi plant, battery factory in Nevada

Tesla’s original gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada is getting a $3.6 billion makeover that will add two fresh facilities and thousands of additional jobs, the electric automaker has confirmed.

The electric car maker didn’t provide a timeline for the expansion, but said one of the new factories will be the first high-volume Tesla Semi plant, while the other will be dedicated to producing 100 GWh of Tesla’s in-house 4680 batteries annually – enough to produce 1.5 million light-duty vehicles annually, the biz said.

The Sparks gigafactory currently produces around 37 GWh of Tesla’s 4680 batteries per year as well as components for its EVs, which are manufactured at its other factories. 

“Along with other on-site vendors, we planned to hire 6,500 full-time team members over the next 10 years to build and ramp Gigafactory Nevada,” Tesla said. 

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Tesla began construction of the Sparks gigafactory in 2015, and since that time has invested more than $6.2 billion in it, the company said. To date, the Sparks factory has produced 7.3 billion battery cells, 1.5 million battery packs, 3.6 million drive units and one million energy modules since the facility opened in 2016.

Tesla’s first gigafactory has courted controversy since opening – in 2019 a report from USA Today reported regular injuries, strained local emergency responders, a housing shortage and additional wear and tear on local roads caused by Tesla’s presence.

Last summer, a group of former Sparks gigafactory employees sued Tesla, alleging they weren’t properly notified of mass layoffs at the factory, as required by US law. Tesla convinced a judge to toss the suit, but appeals of the decision are ongoing. 

Who really wants the Tesla Semi?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Semi in 2017 with guarantees of a 500 mile (800km) range, 20 percent cheaper operating costs, no breakdowns for one million miles and performance that the Tesla Technoking said would leave diesel trucks in the dust. 

“We designed the truck to be like a bullet,” Musk said at the Semi’s launch. Tesla also designed it to hit the roads in 2019, but it didn’t appear until December of last year when Musk held an event to kick off deliveries of several of the vehicles to PepsiCo Frito Lay, the Tesla Semi’s first customer.

Like Tesla’s recent quarterly earnings, the Tesla Semi seems to have missed the mark.

It hasn’t taken long for the million-mile guarantee to be put to the test. Mathematically, it’s impossible for one of Tesla’s delivered Semis to have hit the million mile mark yet – they’ve been on the road for a couple months. 

That hasn’t stopped pictures of seemingly broken down Tesla Semis from appearing online, though. Multiple instances of stranded Semis have shown up on social media – one was even spotted getting a tow.

It’s also unclear whether truck drivers, who will actually be driving the things, have any interest in them at all. Truckers on social media have been scathing in their critiques of the Tesla Semi, with some saying Tesla appeared to have failed to involve anyone who had spent time in a commercial cab.

Center placement of the driver’s seat makes it more difficult to present papers for inspection or pay tolls, and also creates hazards by making passing more difficult, as detailed in this long twitter thread by a person who describes themselves as a pro trucker.

Other drivers cited the need for specialized and hard-to-find Tesla megachargers to juice up the truck, which will take 30 minutes of valuable driving time.

Tesla’s preliminary numbers for Q4 2022 indicate the company failed to meet delivery numbers despite record numbers for the quarter. The Tesla Semi wasn’t mentioned in any of the numbers Tesla has provided for 2022.

Tesla stocks have been faring poorly of late on the back of that news and Musk’s actions with regards to Twitter, which has done plenty to harm Tesla’s reputation. Musk is also currently on trial for allegedly misleading Tesla shareholders with false statements about taking the company private in 2018.

Tesla will report its full 2022 earnings in a webcast later today. ®

 




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