The American company Tesla Motors recently showed off a huge factory that will produce battery packs for its electric cars.
The $5 billion factory is close to Reno in the Nevada desert. The facility is currently about 14 percent completed, but its robots are already getting ready to manufacture batteries.
When finished, the facility will be one of the largest in the world, covering more than one square kilometer.
Tesla officials expect the factory to manufacture tens of thousands of lithium-ion batteries a year. The company is calling the new facility a “Gigafactory.” The term giga is a unit of measurement representing one billion.
Officials say the Gigafactory will produce 35 gigawatt hours of lithium-ion batteries by 2018. That capacity would be more than the whole world’s production in 2014.
Tesla Motors is trying to lower the cost of electric car batteries by mass producing them in Nevada. Up until now, the company has turned to foreign companies for lithium-ion batteries.
Partners with Panasonic
Japan’s Panasonic Corporation has invested $1.6 billion in the factory and will continue partnering with Tesla on production there.
Tesla chief Elon Musk said the Gigafactory will cut battery production costs by more than 30 percent by 2018. The factory could employ up to 10,000 people in coming years, he said.
Tesla has yet to make a profit from its electric car business. This is mainly because its vehicles and batteries cost a lot to manufacture. Prices for the company’s best-selling Model S sedan start at around $70,000.
Earlier this year, Tesla began offering its new Model 3 sedan, with a starting price of $35,000. More than 325,000 people put down a $1,000 deposit and placed an order for the car last March within one week of the announcement. The Model 3 will be the company’s least expensive vehicle, mainly because of lower battery costs.
The first Model 3 cars could be ready as soon as next year. But it is expected to take at least six years for Tesla to complete all the orders. The company says it plans to be producing 500,000 vehicles per year by 2018.
The Nevada factory will also make Tesla batteries for electric trucks and buses, as well as backup power supplies for homes and businesses.
Musk said Tesla’s overall goal is to “accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. So we’re going to take a set of actions that we think are the most likely to achieve that.”
In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, the top of Tesla’s Gigafactory will be covered with solar panels. This will provide most, if not all, of the facility’s electricity needs.
And just in case the factory has to grow even bigger, Tesla has purchased another 7.5 square kilometers of land nearby.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
George Putic reported this story for VOANews.com. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English, with additional information coming from the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
battery – n. power source placed inside a car or other device to supply it with electricity
capacity – n. the amount something can produce
deposit – n. money paid in advance to hold an item for purchase
expensive – adj. costing a lot of money
advent – n. the arrival of a notable person or event
sustainable energy – n. energy that comes from natural sources capable of being replenished