With a hat-tip to the 2004 TV mini-series from Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. This is the twelfth day in a series of posts written about our 2016 EV Roadtrip written in the same manner as our 2015 trip. Here, There, and EVerywhere Trip – Day 01, i.e. summaries written for each day of the trip, published each day, this time two months from the day of the trip. It may seem funny to some to have a summer trip published at the start of the Fall, think of it as some daily entertainment for those that are back in their offices thinking about their past summer trips that could have been or thinking about their next trip.
Missed the previous day’s post, click here to read Day 11 of this trip. You’re just joining us on this trip? Click here for Day 1 and start from the beginning!
So, why the long way round? Well… We got four referrals on the Fourth Tesla Referral Program (May 30, 2016 to July 15, 2016) and we expected to get an invite to the Gigafactory Party, so we thought to start our trip and go to Reno (a nearly 500 mile direct drive from home) via the Pacific Northwest (about a 1600 mile detour) with the intermediate goal of attending the EV Roadmap 9 Conference in Portland, visiting family who were spending time in Seattle, WA and family in Vancouver, BC before turning back for the party.
So, what do we have in store today? It’s the Tesla Gigafactory Party day!
Day 12 – Reno, NV – Tesla Gigafactory Party – Sparks, NV.. July 29, 2016
We picked the Harrah’s Reno location because we had friends that were staying here and the shuttle bus for the Gigafactory party and the pre-party for those of us with four or more referrals were leaving from the hotel across the street (Whitney Peak Hotel).
We had breakfast with our friends at the Hash House A Go Go. I haven’t had my coffee yet, so everything was still blurry.
The meals at the Hash House are filling and tasty. The portions definitely rival the size of the Cheesecake Factory.
The waffles were huge.
As were the pancakes.
We had a great breakfast with our friends, but had to hurry off to the first face to face meetings with the Presidents of the various official Tesla Owners Clubs. Many of these folks flew in for the Gigafactory party and though some were going to TMC Connect, others were not, so we had a lunch with them at a restaurant close to the Atlantis Hotel. We found two Model S and decided to take the third spot beside them. The one in the middle is Greg (ggr) from San Diego’s custom painted Signature Model S. He had carpooled up to the event with a few of our friends from the TesLA Club (Los Angeles).
The lunch meeting was well attended, and there were members there from Australia, Canada, and Europe, (as well as many from all over the US.) It was more about meeting the folks than lunch for us (you DID see the size of our breakfast portions, right?)
We gathered around outside to take a picture, and look at all the pretty cars.
And on the way back to get ready for the Gigafactory party, we stopped off at the TMC Connect hotel, Atlantis, to drop off our new friends from The Owners Club of Australia (who needed a ride) and to see if we can take better pictures of the cars from last night.
Definitely better looking in the sunlight than the dark parking lot from the previous evening.
The supercharger station still had availability.
And that’s one SweetEV (with the new R80 badge to denote the 3.0 battery giving approximately 340 miles of range.)
On the way to drop the Aussies off at the Atlantis, I spotted Rob N.’s Electronaut inspired Model S striping at the Convention Center, where TMC Connect was being held during the day and I felt compelled to track it down and take photographs.
California DCPPOWR meet Massachusetts ACPOWR
After taking all the ActiveE like Model S, we headed back to the hotel. We’re not planning on driving further today, so we park at the hotel and take note of the mileage and range left.
After getting ready for the party, we cross the street to the Whitney Peak Hotel for the pre-party and shuttle buses to the event.
The ore-party for the Gigafactory was at the bar in Whitney Peak Hotel. They served not only drinks, but Ice Cream as well…
And the toppings were great too.
That’s one Happy Dennis. Remember all the Ice Cream stops in last year’s trip, Here, There, and EVerywhere, like the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour.
So, the pre-party was also full. Lots of folks to catch up with.
I even get my few seconds on Youtube (via Bjorn’s channel)! (around the 27:10 mark if I didn’t embed this right) 😉
I suppose I should check to see if KMan has me on his channel too.
A few of the folks drove here to get in the pre-party and some are using the shuttles to the Gigafactory.
The drive to the factory from downtown Reno took about 20 minutes.
There was a line to get into the parking area.
The factory was hidden until one gets into Tesla’s property.
And once you catch a glimpse, it just keeps getting bigger.
It was a pretty orderly line to get in.
And Tesla had a cadre of valet attendants. I suppose when the cars are fully autonomous these guys will have to do something else.
The queue to get into the party was pretty orderly.
All smiles as we wait in line to get in.
Someone just got their party badge!
And that someone is pretty happy.
We get into the party tent and it’s nice and cool.
Here’s a model of the factory on the desert background.
Looks like we’ll get a peek inside the factory before many people do.
The line to get to the tour.
Tesla needs to hurry up and have electric buses for us to use.
No, that’s not our tour guide. That’s one of the Tesla executives welcoming us to the Gigafactory.
These kind folks are the employees who will be taking us on the tour. They have other jobs at the Gigafactory, but for the tour, they’re our tour guides.
We drive around the building and into some uncompleted sections and end up at the start of the tour.
The hallways are nice, cool, and clean.
We were shown a Tesla battery… Lots of discussion whether we can tell the difference in mm from the Roadster/Model S/Model X (18650) format to the new Model 3 (20700) cells. Some could swear that they can tell the difference… I lied and said that I could, I’m just NOT THAT GOOD at telling the differences in battery cylinder sizes.
Here’s a comparison against an iPhone 5. (with a backup battery case hard at work.)
Part of me was wondering, what’s the worst that Tesla will do if I make a break for it… Then again… I decided to continue on with the tour! 😉
Yeah, I don’t know what I’m looking at here. It’s lots of wires and empty walls. However, I do remember them saying something about Inputs and Outputs and the ability to drop a wall and continue to expand the building. Apparently only 12% or so of the factory is complete. Though it seems to me like a lot of the inside still needs to be filled in.
It’s good to hang out with friends from faraway and our particular group has Jeffrey Cadman who had a bear of a time flying cross country from the Mid Atlantic States to get to Reno, his airline cancelled the leg from the Bay Area to Reno and had to share a rental car to get here.
Jeff is one of the crazy guys from Tesla Roadtrip whose misadventures inspired me and my better half to get into Tesla LONG DISTANCE Roadtrips, especially last year’s Cross Country adventure, Here, There, and EVerywhere.
As you can see, even with the misadventures of airline travel, he’s happy now. But what a mess, unfortunately he reached out to us when we were already on our way to Reno from Sacramento and had to split an ICE rental with two other attendees for TMC Connect and/or Gigafactory who were on the same flight.
I could try to lie outright and say what the heck this device is… But, another thing that I remember is many parts of the Gigafactory is actually Panasonic’s section. The cooperation between Tesla and its suppliers is amazing in that the factory is really demarcated between Tesla and its suppliers from where the raw goods are brought in, processed, and provided to Tesla for its assembly into battery packs.
The gentlemen presenting were giving a good detailed explanation of what this part of the process is, but I continued to be distracted and just enjoyed “taking it all in.”
Some of the machinery is covered up in tarps whereas others are in plain sight. One can only imagine at what state the production really is at this point that the general public was allowed the opportunity to photograph the factory. Understanding the umpteen NDAs and warnings against any photography of Tesla’s Fremont Factory, let’s consider what we see with a “grain of salt.” It’s impressive what Tesla and its partners have done, but if it was producing things that are proprietary, we would not have been able to photograph things.
It was still pretty cool to walk through. For crying out loud, there were parts of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour where we were NOT allowed to photograph as well.
More impressive machinery…
I seem to recall something about storing some of the finished products in these racks, but as you can see, nothing is stored, yet.
One of the things pointed out to us is the use of automation and robots in the plant and the markings on the ground are the pathways that the robots use to follow and move material from one point to another in the factory.
Here is a stationary robot that we pass.
And still lots of space to be filled up.
At this junction, I believe that we were nearing the division between Panasonic’s part of the factory with the Tesla assembly portion of it.
So, should I make a break for it?
Move along buddy!
Off to the Cell Aging Room. Why we need to age the cells, I don’t know.
This should give you a good idea at how tight this room is.
Here I am with a robot behind me.
And here it is photobombing me.
It’s a pretty friendly looking industrial robot. Don’t think we have to worry about Skynet…
…yet. Though if Elon and Tesla keep fine tuning the “machine that builds the machine.” His term for the factories that Tesla uses to get products out there, who knows at what point the machines will decide to skip humans altogether.
These trays are where the completed battery cylinders are placed when done being made into the battery format before it is combined to make the battery sheets for vehicles and/or power walls.
You can see some batteries above standing up waiting to be put into packs.
Once again I don’t remember if these cylinders are for the Roadster/Model S/Model X (18650) size or Model 3 (20700) size.
Apparently I mis-wrote earlier. This is the demarcation between the Tesla side and the Panasonic side. Either way, the point remains, on one side of a wall is Panasonic and Tesla’s suppliers and on the other side is Tesla.
Walking into Tesla’s side, the same cylindrical batteries take the shape that we are familiar with. The battery packs that go in our cars and the ones that will be put on people’s walls and utility and commercial locations
These red robots look familiar as the X-Men inspired ones in Fremont that help build the cars.
It must be tempting to hop on a robot, otherwise, why the sign?
Once again, lots of visible assembly line areas and the whole floor looks “clean.”
We pause and take a picture of us at the Tesla side of the factory.
That looks like a Model X chassis. Those shock absorbers on the back look much bigger than a Model S.
Some information on the products from Tesla Energy.
And it looks like wood pallets of Tesla Powerwalls are all ready to ship. I presume these are Australia and Germany bound as those markets are more mature than the US for the delivery of home battery storage for power.
We pass more battery packs in various states of construction.
It’s interesting how such a small cylinder can be combined together to give the capacities of storage that we need for our mobility or home or utility electrical storage needs.
Didn’t get the time to count all the completed boxes, but I’m sure now that a BIG commercial account was announced recently, these guys are busier than they were two months ago when we were there for this launch party.
Ok, pallets are for Tesla Powerwall (Residential installs)
and these refrigerator looking boxes are for commercial PowerPack installs.
We figured to get someone to take our picture with the big Tesla sign behind us.
It was cool to see the “battery lifecycle” input/output factory tour, but it looks like a lot of work still to get it fully functioning. Tesla originally were offering a ride to a lookout with a great picture opportunity for the factory. However, a quick moving thunderstorm entered the area as we completed our tour and we were ushered back to the party quickly.
Summer weather in the desert can be quite interesting.
They offered to possibly restart the overlook process, but muddy feet was not part of the plan for today.
We had hoped to ride in the Model 3 on Gigafactory party day, but the rides that they were offering were solely for Model S and Model X. So, I wasn’t really interested.
We did pass the Model 3 in the VIP section of the party as we quickly went back to the party tent.
It looks bigger in person.
And we had to use zoom lenses to capture shots of it from afar.
One had to be Elon’s guests to get closer to the red Model 3. However, as many have pointed out this red one is actually a full size mockup without any working innards, so there’s that.
It still looks pretty and we would still have enjoyed a chance to look at it.
I took a panoramic from the party tent of the 12% of the building that has been completed. This party tent and parking lot will be demolished as the factory is expanded.
On the other side of those lights are Model S and Model X that are being used for the Test Rides. It’s not even a Test Drive, and since we did drive thousands of miles to get here, a place about 500 miles away from home, I think we’ll let someone else drive and ride while we enjoy the company and the party.
Some folks had great spots to see and hear Elon and JB welcome us and talk about the Gigafactory. As with many Tesla events, it was quite full and crowded by the stage, so my better half and I enjoyed hanging out with EV friends and listen to Elon and JB talk in the same room and have the comfort of the AV professionals view.
We took the opportunity while Elon and JB were speaking to take a few shots of the models of the Gigafactory and surrounding location.
It’s incredible what the vision is for the site, once built. And it is important to note that this Gigafactory is the first of a plan to build more of these worldwide so as to deliver vehicles and energy storage closer to where the demand is. I’m assuming that means an Asian and European Gigafactory along with future Tesla auto factories at those locations as well.
No detail was missed in the model with a pair of Model S supercharging factory side.
We stuck around pretty late to see if we can make it to the Model 3. We tried different avenues to get an invite to go across to see it. Alas, here’s a great shot of it via zoom lens later in the evening.
The test rides have wound down and many have left the party.
As we exit, we figure to take a picture of the sign welcoming us to this party.
And we head back in our shuttle. We check into our room at the Harrah’s Reno and take a picture of the little city of Reno. It was great to see the building and Gigafactory in the state that it is in. It would be better to see it in greater operation.
The next day of this series, Day 13, is published here.
It’s important to note that our Gigafactory invite would not have been possible had folks not used our referral code. So, I have to thank those that were convinced to pick up a Tesla Model S or Model X and decided to save some money by using our referral code. So, if you’re as inclined as those that took us up on the offer, and in the market for a Tesla Model S or Model X, you can save $1,000 USD/$1,200 CAD/£750 GBP (and whatever the equivalent is in your market) if you use our referral code – http://ts.la/dennis5317.