Tesla Planning Massive Battery 'Gigafactory'
States likely to fight over $5 billion project
By Kevin Spak,  Newser User
Posted Feb 27, 2014 11:34 AM CST
Tesla CEO Elon Musk prepares himself as he walk through the assembly area at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., June 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – Elon Musk is working up plans for a battery factory so vast that Tesla Motors has come up with a new name for it: the "gigafactory." Tesla will invest between $4 billion and $5 billion in what it believes will be the world's biggest battery plant, Bloomberg reports, which would not only help it make cheaper, mass market cars, it would make it a major player in the energy industry. Tesla estimates that the factory will single-handedly drive lithium-ion battery prices down 30%, and it wants to put half a million electric cars on the street annually by 2020; that number is 35,000 currently.

Rob Wile at Business Insider sees even bigger implications, predicting that Tesla "took the first step towards obliterating the power companies." The problem with renewable energies has always been storing power for less sunny and windy days; Tesla's move will make that much cheaper. Which is why Tesla might have a partner in another Musk-owned company, SolarCity Corp, and possibly Panasonic, which supplies Tesla's current lithium-ion cells. Construction should begin this year and wrap in 2017, Time reports, though it's unclear where: Tesla has named Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas as finalists, but expect a bidding war from states for the roughly 6,500 jobs the factory will create. Click for Tesla's outline of the gigafactory (PDF).