Tesla’s Gigafactory Is Open—and Still Expanding at a Rapid Pace
Credit: Motor Trend
Tesla unveiled the Model 3 at the end of March. Within a week, more than 325,000 people had put down a $1,000 deposit to reserve the car. After seeing that level of demand, Tesla moved its production plans forward. The company now says it will make 500,000 vehicles per year by 2018, two years earlier than scheduled.
To meet that goal, Gigafactory construction is proceeding at a furious pace. Inside the factory, Tesla's partner, Panasonic Corp. -- which has invested $1.6 billion into the factory -- is installing machines in sealed, humidity-controlled rooms that will start making battery cells before the end of this year.
Panasonic is also shipping cells from Japan to the Powerwall business, which is operating in another section of the factory. Robots are used to place battery packs into home and office units, which store energy from solar panels and allow users to tap it during peak periods. Musk said the Powerwall business will initially make up about one-third of the Gigafactory's output, but eventually could expand to around half.
Sales of plug-in electric cars are not evenly distributed across the U.S. by any means.
California, with its pioneering zero-emission vehicle sales requirements, has always occupied an outsize place in the sales charts.
Not only is it the most populous state in the union, with 39 million residents, but it accounts for a large share of all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales.
With its three key products all facing an uphill battle for growth, Apple seems to be moving to open a new front with electric vehicles.
Apple reported Tuesday that revenue slid for a second straight quarter in April-June, dropping 15% on the year to $42.3 billion.
Unit sales of the iPhone fell 15%, while the Mac and iPad lines -- the latter was updated last fall with a large-screen version -- saw volume declines of 11% and 9%. The much-anticipated Apple Watch has also lost steam.
Environmentalists who once championed biofuels as a way to cut pollution are now turning against a U.S. program that puts renewable fuels in cars, citing higher-than-expected carbon dioxide emissions and reduced wildlife habitat.
More than a decade after conservationists helped persuade Congress to require adding corn-based ethanol and other biofuels to gasoline, some groups regret the resulting agricultural runoff in waterways and conversion of prairies to cropland -- improving the odds that lawmakers might seek changes to the program next year.
A new wrinkle on an old technology -- solid-state thermophotovoltaics (TPV) -- could provide a high-efficiency alternative for directly converting high-temperature heat from concentrated solar thermal to utility-scale electricity.
New computer modeling suggests that high-temperature TPV conversion -- which captures infrared radiation from very hot surfaces -- could one day rival combined-cycle turbine systems when combined with thermal storage using liquid metal at temperatures around 1,300 degrees Celsius. Advances in high-temperature components and improved system modeling, combined with the potential for conversion costs an order of magnitude lower than those of turbines, suggest that TPV could offer a pathway for efficiently storing and producing electrical power from solar thermal sources, a new study suggests.