Tesla recently showed drone footage of the construction progress of its Gigafactory in Sparks with the plan to produce at least 500,000 cars a year by 2018. While the main goal of the Gigafactory will be pumping out electric car batteries at record speeds, construction will not be completely finished for at least a few more years.
The aerial views of the gigafactory also come days before a Tesla Gigafactory Investor event scheduled for Wednesday. The invite-only occasion to be hosted at the gigafactory coincides with the upcoming CES conference in Las Vegas (regarded as the biggest technology and global consumer electronics tradeshow of the year).
The investor event will be organized with a Q&A session featuring Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. It is speculated that Tesla will announce the start of new battery production, originally promised to begin by the end of 2016.
Even though CES will begin a day later in Las Vegas, people on the invite list will most likely make the detour up to the Sparks gigafactory to see what’s going on. Tesla does not plan to attend CES as sources say it wants to have a more hands-on way to showcase its progress and accomplishments.
Tesla did not respond to requests for more information, but, other sources say that Tesla does have some aggressive goals planned for 2017, which include:
• Incremental updates to Autopilot 2.0, its self-driving software system. Musk stated that Tesla hopes to be able to demonstrate a fully autonomous automobile by test-driving a vehicle from LA to New York, dropping you off in Times Square and then parking itself.
• As long as Tesla remains on time, the first Model 3’s will be let out into the market. Around 400,000 people have already pre-ordered the sleek sports car-looking vehicle, but those on the waiting list may not get their cars for a couple of years.
• Tesla’s “machine that makes the machine”- the rapidly-growing company understands that it needs to exponentially increase its production speed in order to reach its goals. Therefore, it is working on a model to turn the factory itself into a product by building more gigafactories. Tesla is looking at breaking ground on Gigafactory 2 to be based in Europe sometime soon.
• “Tesla Glass” solar shingles coming soon: Since its recent merger with SolarCity and solar roof unveiling, Tesla is looking towards improving that product and further promoting the Tesla Powerwall 2.0 battery.
• Continuing the integration of Powerpacks in various parts of the world: Acting as a backup power source or supplement to traditional systems, Tesla is ready supplying this solar array to destination places and resorts in places in North Carolina and Fiji. In fact, Ta’u island- located 4,000 miles off the west coast- supplies its community with nearly 100 percent of renewable energy thanks to Tesla’s 60 Powerpacks and 5,328 SolarCity panels.
• Along with electric consumer vehicles, Tesla is busy trying to create heavy-duty trucks and buses. According to a Tesla blog post, “Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year.”
• Tesla will also be revealing its pickup truck and Model Y compact SUV.
The event Wednesday will end with tours of the gigafactory, which is the first time anyone will have the chance to really see the operation.
Actor Leonardo DeCaprio visited the gigafactory to chat with Tesla’s Elon Musk for his documentary Before the Flood, which aired this past fall on the National Geographic channel. In DiCaprio’s meeting with Musk, they discussed how countries could persuade the world to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy by implementing a carbon tax. Musk also relayed how many gigafactories it would take to get the entire world running on renewable energy.