Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin on Its Way to Local Battery Manufacturing

4 weeks ago by Kristijan Nelkovski

Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg (aka Giga Berlin) is currently under construction and heading towards achieving local battery manufacturing using a new battery technology design. Giga Berlin is an example of Tesla’s interest in more efficient batteries, particularly as batteries reflect the company’s most costly manufacturing process for its electric vehicle production plans.

Gigafactory Berlin

The upcoming Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg is set to house the manufacture of Tesla’s batteries and battery packs for the Tesla Model Y series (which is aimed at the European market).

Confirmation of Tesla’s future in-house battery manufacturing site comes from Jörg Steinbach, the Brandenburg Minister of Economics and an avid proponent of the project. Steinbach has also stated that Tesla has plans for one section of the gigafactory to be a battery cell production plant.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, moreover, has announced during Tesla’s Q2 2020 earnings call that, while he can’t reveal much, there will also be local battery production facilities to meet the demands of the Berlin gigafactory.

 

A computer rendering of the in-development Tesla Gigafactory Berlin.

A computer rendering of the in-development Tesla Gigafactory Berlin. Image Credit: Tesla.

 

The factory, which is currently under construction and planned to become operational in 2021, is designed for the production of half a million vehicles annually in its first stage. The first Model Y vehicles are expected to hit the market in the summer of 2021.

 

Tesla’s Further Developments for New Battery Technologies

Currently, a chief limiting factor of electric vehicle, or EV, sustainability concerns both the often-limited capacity and notable weight of the EV batteries themselves. In response to these obstacles, Tesla is constantly trying to improve its battery cells, and one of its biggest steps towards this goal was made thanks to its acquisition of Maxwell, a supercapacitor company with its own, high-density and lightweight battery technology.

Alongside the above, Tesla has also partnered with researchers in the field of novel battery materials, as well as larger organisations, such as LG Chem and CATL (both of which being the EV giant’s battery suppliers for Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai).

Tesla has also established a partnership with the Japanese company Panasonic, which has focused its current battery cell production on the manufacture of Tesla’s battery packs for its Tesla Model 3 and the Model Y electric vehicles, currently being produced in Gigafactory Nevada. Recently, Panasonic was able to achieve a 5% energy boost in its ‘2170’ Li-ion battery cells, all while using less cobalt: one of the key—but expensive—metals involved in EV battery chemistries. Such advancements as these have the potential to increase the driving range of electric vehicles.

 

A collection of the Panasonic 2170 lithium-ion battery cells currently being produced for Tesla.

A collection of the Panasonic 2170 lithium-ion battery cells currently being produced for Tesla. Image Credit: Panasonic.

 

Ultimately, the goal of Tesla and its partners is to manufacture cheaper and lighter batteries with higher energy density. And according to Elon Musk, ideally, in order to do this, the manufacture of the battery cells needs to be carried out locally at its factories (this already being the case with Tesla’s Panasonic partnership in the aforementioned Gigafactory Nevada). Doing so will ensure more cost-effective manufacturing and an altogether higher-performance vehicle: one that is capable of achieving a longer driving range on a single charge.

 

Footnote: Tesla’s Battery Day

Even though Tesla is currently working on multiple battery projects, as of now they haven’t directly stated the exact type of battery cell that will be produced in the Tesla Gigafactory Berlin. This information will likely be disclosed on its annual Battery Day, which will be held virtually on Tuesday, the 22nd of September.

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