When one isn’t enough…
When you are making multiple copies of something new, the hardest one to make by far is the first one. Why? Because you have to actually design the thing and then, when building it, you discover all the ways in which theory and practice differ; you have to iron out the kinds, correct the bugs, and hopefully don’t go too far off budget and off schedule… But after number one has been built, you can take everything you’ve learned and hopefully number two is more of a “cut & paste” job…
That seems to be the plan with the massive battery factory that Tesla has been building in Nevada a year. Last April, Musk announced that the Gigafactory would now officially be known as Gigafactory 1, that there would be others, and that he expects other companies to also build their own similar battery supplies (after all, if electric vehicles replace gasoline and diesel ones, a lot of batteries will be needed).
Until recently, it wasn’t clear where Tesla wanted to put the second Gigafactory. Some people speculated about Japan, where a lot of Tesla components are sourced and where the company’s main battery partner, Panasonic, is based. Or it could have been in the United States, where Tesla does most of its manufacturing.
But based on a recent report, it looks like Germany is at the top of the list:
Tesla Motors Inc. is in discussions with the German government over the prospect of building a battery factory in the country, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday.
Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has been in contact with German officials and may seek state support for the facility, Gabriel said at an event at a Mercedes-Benz car factory in Rastatt, Germany. Gabriel didn’t provide details about the proposed plant or timing of a decision.
“We’re in talks” with the Tesla CEO about a possible plant, Gabriel said. “I assume he will want public funds.”
Tesla refused to comment, possibly because they are having discussions with multiple parties or simple want to keep things quiet until there is an official announcement to be made.
Germany would make a lot of sense, though. It’s the automobile hub of Europe, as well as a country known for its high-tech manufacturing and engineering. The Euro has significantly weakened against the US dollar, so Tesla making a big investment in Europe now would cost a lot less than it would have a couple of years ago.
We’ll have to wait and see. But two gigafactories (or more!) would certainly reduce the cost of batteries significantly and hasten the rise of EVs. If one Gigafactory can cut costs by about 30%, two should be able to do more through increased economies of scale.