Elon Musk opens Tesla’s ‘Giga Texas’ that he says is the largest factory in the US

Marking the official start of production at Tesla’s new Giga Texas plant in Austin, Elon Musk said it will be the largest plant in the country by size and will also be the largest auto plant in the US when fully operational.

Speaking to more than 1,000 invitees and fans of the brand packed into the sprawling facility for what Tesla called a “Cyber ​​Rodeo” late Thursday, Musk said the plant will produce at least 500,000 vehicles per year next year. Initially, it will make Model Y hatchbacks, with the rugged Cybetruck pickup set to go into production next year, along with a new version of the Roadster sports car and Tesla Semi.

“The Model Y line will be the highest capacity line I think of any line in the world. In fact, I’m confident it will be,” Musk, wearing a black hat, black sunglasses and black Giga Texas t-shirt, told attendees. “Half a million units per year in a single factory of one product is the greatest danger in the world. This will be the highest volume auto plant in America.”

The Texas plant is opening as the prospects for Musk’s company have never been brighter, as concerns over climate change and rising oil prices fuel demand for electric vehicles. When the Austin plant is fully ramped up, with Tesla’s new factory at Giga Berlin, the fast-growing factory in Shanghai Gigafactory and Fremont, California, it could give the company the capacity to build approximately 2 million vehicles per year in the coming years. That’s more than double what Tesla produced in 2021.

The Austin facility, which opened in less than two years since construction started, is the second new Tesla plant in a month, following the delayed opening of Giga Berlin in March. Both facilities are a big step for an automaker under 20 years old that will likely help Tesla maintain its current status as the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer for the foreseeable future.

Still, the company’s growth could be held back this year by an ongoing shortage of computer chips and increased competition for the raw materials needed to make batteries from rivals in the auto industry. Water is also a concern for both the Austin and Berlin plants.

Unlike Tesla’s original Fremont factory, which consists of several separate buildings, Giga Texas is one massive facility with all manufacturing activities under one roof, including a new battery line that will make packages on site for vehicles built there. In total, the facility is 338 million cubic feet, or 15 city blocks, Musk said. “It’s equivalent to three Pentagons.”

In addition to building vehicles, the billionaire entrepreneur said the factory will also produce the Optimus humanoid robot next year, a product Musk has often touted since its unveiling — in the form of a person in a robotic suit dancing on stage. —on Tesla’s AI Day in 2021. While he remains optimistic about the product, analysts and robotics experts don’t seem to share Musk’s enthusiastic view.

Designed for maximum efficiency, the new multi-billion dollar plant in Texas will make vehicles with mainly three major components: a rear section made from a single casting, a battery pack designed as the vehicle’s structural undercarriage, and the front section also made from a single metal. casting.

“Just as with modern aircraft where the wing is a fuel tank in the shape of a wing, the new Model Y architecture carries the (battery) cells themselves. That results in a car that is lighter, has a small number of parts, costs less and improves crash performance, so it’s also a safety benefit,” he said. “It’s a revolution in car manufacturing to basically make a car out of three major parts.”

Shares of Tesla, the world’s most valuable automaker with a market cap of more than $1 trillion, rose 1.1% to $1,057.26 in Nasdaq trading on Thursday.

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