Tesla wants to boost semi-production with gigafactory expansion

Tesla has announced a major plan to expand its Gigafactory in Nevada.

The Elon Musk-led electric vehicle company said Tuesday it will invest more than $3.6 billion to add two more manufacturing facilities at the site — one that will be its first high-volume factory for its recently launched semi-trailer truck, and another which produces its new 4680 battery cell.

Tesla’s announcement is welcomed by customers on the waitlist for the automaker’s new all-electric semi truck. The company introduced the vehicle in 2017, but multiple production delays meant the first was not delivered until the end of 2022.

Pepsi was the first customer after ordering 100 trucks, while other customers include UPS, Walmart, grocery delivery company Sysco and brewery Anheuser-Busch. The first production semi-vehicles have a range of 500 miles, although Tesla will also produce a version that can go 300 miles on a single charge.

As for the new cell factory, Tesla said It will have the capacity to produce enough batteries for two million light commercial vehicles annually. Tesla has found it difficult to ramp up production of the 4680 cell at its Fremont, California, and Austin, Texas, factories, according to a Reuters report. This is obviously because production techniques for making larger cells have been difficult to scale to the point where their manufacture is financially viable. However, the expansion of the plant in Nevada indicates that the company wants to make progress in this area.

The Gigafactory expansion will create 3,000 jobs and increase the existing workforce of 11,000. Available positions include supervisor, technician and production worker. In its current form, the Nevada site produces electric motors for the Model 3 and battery packs.

Tesla also has gigafactories in New York, Germany and China, with a new one starting up in Texas last year.

News of Tesla’s Gigafactory expansion in Nevada comes as Musk defends himself in a court in San Francisco against a class action lawsuit his 2018 tweet about the privatization of Tesla. Investors claim the tweet cost them millions of dollars when a privatization deal fell through, though Musk insists he did nothing wrong.

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