How will critical minerals fuel Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory?
July 09, 2014
Tesla Motors, a premier electric vehicle manufacturer, has plans ...
Access to minerals is a top priority for Tesla Motors as they construct the company’s “Gigafactory” in Nevada. When Tesla announced the development of a $5 billion Gigafactory in 2014, it was expected to open in 2020. However, due to increasing demand for Tesla’s cars, it is now expected to open ahead of schedule—by 2018. As Tesla accelerates production, its access to raw mineral materials is increasingly important.
Since 2003, Tesla has been a leading innovator of automotive technology. In an effort to also establish itself as an innovator of production, the company is building its large-scale Gigafactory to manufacture the lithium-ion batteries that power its cars. By bringing battery production in-house, Tesla hopes to streamline their supply chain and decrease production time and costs. This decision holds tremendous opportunity for the company as well as for U.S. manufacturing and mining.
Tesla’s batteries are currently made with lithium, nickel, cobalt and aluminum. Without lithium, the battery would not be rechargeable. If Tesla is able to produce the quantities it intends, the Gigafactory will be the highest producing lithium-ion battery factory in the world.
In addition the composition of the battery, minerals are also integral to every other part of the car, from the body to the driver touch screen interface. Furthermore, metal and mineral resources are vital to the manufacturing processes and equipment that produce the various parts of the Tesla vehicle.
Tesla’s enterprising factory system depends on a reliable supply chain. As the only state in the U.S. to mine lithium, Nevada is the ideal location to host Tesla’s Gigafactory. With close proximity to Nevada’s estimated $9 billion worth of mineral resources including lithium, gold and silver, Tesla expects to simplify their supply chain and reduce costs by up to 30 percent.
From the beginning, Tesla has planned to source essential raw materials domestically. However, due to the current inefficient federal mineral mine permitting process, this is no easy task. This could potentially hurt Tesla’s ability to meet demand in a cost-effective and timely manner.
If we want U.S. manufacturing and technology, we need access to U.S. minerals. We can work to ensure that Tesla and other innovators have timely access to the $6.2 trillion worth of mineral resources in the U.S. Doing so would ensure that we become a more innovative, globally competitive and resource secure nation.