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What is a gigafactory and how do they work?

By Jack Evans | June 24, 2024

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We’re going to take a look through what a gigafactory is, how it works and how it could change the future of EVs.

What is a gigafactory and how do they work?

You may have heard the term ‘gigafactory’ already. It’s a real buzzword in the electric vehicle industry and it could be a way of completely unlocking the future of battery-powered cars and how easily they can be produced. 

Here, we’re going to take a look through what a gigafactory is, how it works and how it could change the future of EVs. 

So just what is a gigafactory?

The term ‘gigafactory’ is believed to have come from - you guessed it - Elon Musk. The Tesla boss is believed to have first coined the term during an investors call back in November 2013, in reference to the kind of production that would be required to deliver the firm’s upcoming Model 3 electric saloon. 

It comes from a blend of two elements; ‘giga’, which is a measurement that has been multiplied by one billion - and ‘factory’, which is self-explanatory. Combined, you’ve got yourself a very big battery factory. 

What’s the point of a gigafactory?

Essentially, a gigafactory is there to produce electric car batteries on a massive scale. They can produce these alongside other EV-related parts, but it is all designed to help lower the cost of these components by creating them in vast quantities. By creating a gigafactory, companies can also help smooth out production of their vehicles by shortening the transit distance of batteries to the primary factories. 

Does the UK have any gigafactories?

At present, the UK has a rather peppered approach to gigafactories. Some of the most recent news has come from Indian conglomerate Tata, which has confirmed that it will be creating a site in Bridgwater, Somerset which has the potential to employ up to 4,000 people as a result of £4bn in investment. It is believed that the firm’s battery business - called Agratas - has already purchased the land for the facility, which will be located just off the M5 on the outskirts of Bridgwater. 

However, not all gigafactories have been successful. The firm Britishvolt spectacularly crashed into administration during January 2023, following years of delay and unsuccessful development, despite significant investment in the firm. 

What about elsewhere in the world?

It’ll probably not come as much of a surprise that Tesla has a number of gigafactory sites across the globe with facilities in Fremont, New York and Shanghai while new sites are already in the pipeline for Nevada. A production facility is already up and running in Germany, too, giving the fight to the country’s native - and successful - car makers. 

However, it’s not just Tesla that is in the gigafactory game. At present, there are around 38 battery production sites in Europe alone, with Germany being one of the primary countries for gigafactory construction. 

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