When Tesla Motors unveiled its ambitious plans to build what would be by far the biggest lithium-ion battery factory in the world a few months ago, it highlighted 4 states where it could be located (these were Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, all relatively close to Tesla's factory in California). The goal was obviously to have the 4 states compete for the opportunity to get the ±$5 billion investment that will create around 6,500 jobs.
It's not clear what offers have been made, but it looks like the field has now been reduced to two states. In fact, Elon Musk is apparently close to naming two different sites in these two different states where ground will be broken and preparations will begin so that when the final state is selected, things are already underway and no time is wasted. Talk about a need for speed! They obviously feel that it's worth a lot more to have the plant construction finish sooner than whatever they would spend on prepping the unneeded second site.
“What we’re going to do is move forward with more than one state, at least two, all the way to breaking ground, just in case there’s last-minute issues,” Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer, said in an interview this week. “The No. 1 thing is we want to minimize the risk timing for the gigafactory to get up and running.”
Tesla estimates that by 2020, the Gigafactory alone will produce as much lithium-ion battery cells as total worldwide production in 2013 (as you can see in the slide above). And we're producing a lot in 2013, so it's no small challenge...
The EV maker forecasts that by the end of the first year of volume production of their mass market vehicle, they expect the Gigafactory will have driven down the per-kWh cost of their battery pack by more than 30 percent. That's just the first year. As production ramps up, costs should drop further.
As you can see above, they have quite an aggressive timeline for such an ambitious target. But then again, everything the company has done since 2006 has been very aggressive and much faster than anyone could've thought, so its hard to bet against them pulling off this bit project too.
More details about the Tesla Gigafactory can be found here.