Tesla’s fourth Gigafactory that’s planned to serve the European market will have its location decided on by the end of this year, according to CEO Elon Musk during the company’s Q2 2019 earnings call. Also confirmed by Musk was Tesla’s plan to continue sourcing European vehicle orders from their Fremont, California factory until a European location is ready for production. The facility is estimated to be online sometime in 2021.
“Our plan is to source cars to greater Europe area from Fremont, California until we have [the] European Gigafactory operational. But…it’s probably 2021 before we have an operational Gigafactory in Europe,” Musk said on the call in response to a question over whether Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, China would fill any European orders.
A European Gigafactory would produce battery packs, powertrains, and vehicles, but it could also benefit Tesla’s other facilities in the area, such as its Tilburg, Netherlands assembly plant which was opened in 2013 as a staging area to assemble vehicles and distribute them throughout the region. Talks about a Gigafactory in Europe have been ongoing since Musk teased a regional location in 2016 after the company acquired Grohmann Engineering. Now known as Tesla Grohmann Automation, the facility is based in Prüm, Germany, making it strategically located for any facility that Tesla builds near the German-French border. The locations under consideration are still only speculated at this point, though Musk has shown favoritism towards Germany in the past.
As for Tesla’s long-term Gigafactory plans, Musk deferred to the company’s upcoming ‘Battery Day’ previously announced for more information in response to related inquiries during the earnings call. “On Battery Day, [we’ll discuss] cell chemistry, module and pack architecture, [and] a manufacturing plan that has a clear roadmap to a TWh per year,” Musk said, also noting that the event will probably take place in February or March next year. “[It’s] show and tell… In some respects ‘Battery Day’ will be Master Plan, Part 3.”
While Tesla’s second quarter earnings report saw a $408 million net loss and lower than expected $6.3 billion in revenue, also included was a healthy cash balance of $5 billion that will help the company sustain its expansions which include the rapid construction of Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai. “Gigafactory Shanghai continues to take shape, and in Q2 we started to move machinery into the facility for the first phase of production there. This will be a simplified, more cost-effective version of our Model 3 line with capacity of 150,000 units per year – the second generation of the Model 3 production process,” the company wrote.
Even without a regional Gigafactory, Tesla’s sales and deliveries in Europe have indicated a healthy demand. “In Europe, Model 3 is approaching sales levels of established premium competitors,” Tesla stated. Musk’s personal estimate for worldwide Model 3 demand during the Q2 earnings call was 15,000 per week globally, and a European Gigafactory would certainly make a difference in Tesla’s ability to meet that level of delivery demand.