On February 26, 2014, Tesla Motors Inc. (NDQ:TSLA) announced details of its long-awaited "gigafactory", an ambitious plan to build a facility to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in large-enough quantities to meet the needs of the 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) that the company plans to produce in 2020. Tesla proposes to build this facility somewhere in the southwest United States, in reasonable proximity to its California-based vehicle assembly plant.
Tesla's plans call for the creation of 35 GWh/year of production capacity for its third-generation Model E vehicle, implying an average 70 kWh of storage capacity per vehicle. The plan calls for an additional 15 GWh/year of production capacity, presumably to meet the needs of additional ventures with which Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is involved.
In addition to the significant quantities of lithium, cobalt and other metals that the batteries from this proposed facility will require, even greater quantities of graphite will be needed to produce the anodes that are used in these batteries.
It is obviously early days for the gigafactory initiative, and a number of important details have yet to emerge. There is certainly no guarantee that Tesla will actually move forward with the project, or that it might not morph into some other form. Nonetheless, it is important that the supply chain gets itself ready to participate.