During Tesla’s Battery Day event, Elon Musk and Drew Baglino announced that its pilot Roadrunner cell production line would be capable of producing about 10 GWh worth of batteries per year. The facility’s output was almost spoken as an aside, with both executives simply stating its target as a given. A closer look at the Roadrunner line’s planned annual output shows that Tesla has created something that’s incredibly disruptive and innovative at the same time.
As noted by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a market intelligence publisher for the lithium-ion battery to electric vehicle (EV) supply chain, the Roadrunner line’s 10 GWh output actually makes it the world’s 13th-largest battery production facility in the world. Granted, the facility is still in the process of being ramped, but once it achieves its full potential, it would be making a significant amount of batteries. Today, after all, Gigafactory Nevada’s output still stands below 40 GWh, and that’s with a monster battery factory that’s already considered as the largest in the world.
The disruption of Tesla’s next-generation battery and cell production system becomes even more evident when one considers just how compact the system is. The Roadrunner line is located in Tesla’s Kato Road facility, which is comprised of two buildings that cover 184,880 sq ft combined, as per the company’s filings to the City of Fremont. To build a 10 GWh battery production plant from such a space is something truly remarkable.
It should also be considered that the 10 GWh Roadrunner system is a pilot production line, which means that it’s still bound to be improved over time. The Kato Road facility may hold its place as the world’s 13th-largest battery production plant when it hits its target output, but there will likely be very little that could stop Tesla from upgrading the facility even further, or at least as soon as improvements become available. Such is the culture of Tesla, after all.
The Roadrunner line’s 10 GWh output is nothing to scoff at. Back in 2010, the entire battery production industry produced 20 GWh, as per data from the European Commission. This means that the pilot Roadrunner line has an output equal to half the world’s battery production output a decade ago. Interestingly enough, neither Elon Musk nor Drew Baglino emphasized these points during the Battery Day event. Any other carmaker would likely have highlighted such a point.
The innovations that were announced on Battery Day have the potential to change not only the electric vehicle sector but the transportation industry as a whole. With its new battery tech, Tesla will be able to produce batteries at the terawatt level from facilities that are smaller than the completed iteration of Gigafactory Nevada, which is expected to produce 150 GWh. This is key to the company’s long-term goal, which includes producing 20 million vehicles for the global auto market by 2030.