Tesla Gigafactory: Putting its size into perspective

We now know that Tesla Motors’ battery ‘gigafactory’ will be sited in Nevada, and there are some fairly substantial figures involved.

It will cost Tesla and its partners roughly $5 billion to build, and when fully operational will be capable of churning out half a million lithium-ion battery packs every year, or roughly 1,400 every day.

Using geothermal, solar, and wind power, the facility will also be carbon neutral, with estimates suggesting that it could generate up to 2,900 MWh of renewable energy each day – 20 percent more than it needs.

Those numbers we can just about grasp, but what about the physical dimensions of the gigafactory? We know it will be a vast structure, but comprehending its size is another matter. Some perspective would be helpful.

Redditor ‘jonjiv’ has created these graphics outlining where the gigafactory fits in with other architectural colossi, from the Empire State building in New York to (our favorite for sheer impact) a humble football field.

how-big-tesla-gigafacotry how-big-tesla-gigfactory-01

Jonjiv’s methodology is outlined below.

“So we know from various sources that:

The Gigafactory might look like this

It will be somewhere between 5 million square feet and 10 million square feet.

It will be 1-2 stories tall.

With such huge ranges, it’s hard to nail down the what actual dimensions of the factory will be, but I didn’t want to make multiple images. So what is pictured could be either a 5M sq ft factory with one floor or a 10M sq ft factory with two floors. I assumed a 1:2.5 dimension ratio which is shown in the recent renderings.

I got a 3535 ft (1077 m) x 1414 ft (431 m) footprint using the knowns above. I fudged the length in the graphic a little to 1100 m to account for the beveled corners.”

Tesla’s gigafactory is seen as crucial for the company’s future. If CEO Elon Musk can leverage economies of scale then an affordable electric car (a $35,000 price point has been targeted) with a class-leading 200-mile range is a realistic possibility.

Posted by Richard Lane

Richard is a London-based automotive journalist specialising in future mobility and sustainable design. Having fallen for cars because of the virtues of a particular German flat-six, it's what we'll all be driving next that now interests Richard most. Dream garage: Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior and a Detroit Electric SP:01.

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