Tesla factory could alter future of batteries

The numbers are truly staggering.

The new Tesla Motors gigafactory is more than a game-changer for the California car maker. It could change the way batteries are made in the U.S. for years to come.

It comes down to the numbers for the thing.

The “giga” in gigafactory is, after all, the prefix for a billion.

The plant will be so large that it will double the amount of lithium ion batteries produced in the U.S. by 2020. It will make enough batteries to power 500,000 electric cars.

The plant, overall, will be:

  • 10 million: square feet
  • 500-1,000: acres
  • 6,500: employees
  • 500,000: batteries per year
  • 35: gigawatthours per year of cells produced

But, it won’t be cheap to build. The company says it needs $5 billion, that’s with a “b,” to make it happen. Tesla’s current partner, Panasonic, has said that will pony up about $1 billion for the plant.

Tesla intends to raise $1.6 billion through a private bond issue to finance part of it as well.

In SEC documents filed Wednesday, the company said it would issue $800 million in convertible senior notes due in 2019 and another $800 million due in 2021 to build the factory. Overall, Tesla said it plans to invest $2 billion.

“Very shortly, we will be ready to share more information about the Tesla gigafactory. This will allow us to achieve a major reduction in the cost of our battery packs and accelerate the pace of battery innovation,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote in the company’s filing. “Working in partnership with our suppliers, we plan to integrate precursor material, cell, module and pack production into one facility. With this facility, we feel highly confident of being able to create a compelling and affordable electric car in approximately three years. This will also allow us to address the solar power industry’s need for a massive volume of stationary battery packs.”