Tesla and Solar City are two companies poised to bring massive manufacturing back to the US, which will create thousands of jobs, bring production costs down and make their sustainable industries even greener by reducing the shipping distances of finished products.
Tesla Motors, the luxury electric car company brainchild of PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, will bring the largest lithium-ion battery factory in the world to Nevada. The site was chosen not only because of a space requirement reaching ten million square feet for the site, but also based on an estimated $1.25 billion in financial incentives offered by the state over a 20 year period. Also backing the project is Panasonic, which recently announced it will invest billions of Yen in the first phase of factory construction. According to the company, the Tesla gigafactory plans to have a vehicle output of approximately 500,000 per year, a cell output of about 35 GWh per year and a pack output of about 50 GWh per year all by 2020. The factory will employ approximately 6,500 people once at full operating capacity and be powered completely by renewable energy.
The initial investment by Tesla and its partners will require about four to five billion dollars through 2020 to complete construction. The result will be the largest lithium-ion battery factory in the world, job creation for the state of Nevada and new Tesla electric vehicles priced at around $35,000, making them significantly more accessible to millions of consumers. By that point, Tesla also plans to greatly expand their network of charging stations across the country, slowing but surely permeating the auto industry to bring electric cars into the mainstream spotlight.
Meanwhile in upstate New York, SolarCity announced in late September a gigafactory for the city of Buffalo, which will bring large-scale renewable energy manufacturing—the kind that will power the Tesla gigafactory—to US soil. Elon Musk is also a key investor behind SolarCity, which recently became a panel manufacturer through the $200 million acquisition of the manufacturing company Silevo. In the state capital of Albany on September 23rd, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the nearly 1.2 million square foot factory will bring a total of around 5,000 jobs—more than 1,000 of them direct manufacturing jobs—to New York. The state will invest a total of around $750 million in the project over the next decade, which will cost a grand total of about $5 billion. This will be a huge move for a leading renewable energy company that, until recently, has leased most of its panels from Chinese manufacturers. The projected output of the factory is close to a gigawatt per year.
The gigafactories will improve the accessibility and upfront costs of electric vehicles and solar panels in the US, not to mention add more than 10,000 total jobs in green technology. As SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive noted, “the United States can return to its place atop the world in advanced technology manufacturing.”