How Tesla build their car factories unbelievably quickly

Kieran Bicknell
Tesla Model S under construction

Tesla is now the most valuable car manufacturer in the world. With such popularity comes increased demand. This requires huge so-called ‘Gigafactories’ which go up in incredibly short timeframes – here’s how they do it.

Just ten short years ago, Tesla bought its first factory from automotive giants General Motors (GM.) Since then, the EV manufacturers have refined and honed their ‘Gigafactories’ to produce an incredibly slick building process.

The factories themselves go up in shockingly short amounts of time, defying what many conventional builders would think is achievable. Located in Nevada and New York, Tesla’s Gigafactories are a feat of engineering and rank among the most high-tech factories in the world.

Tesla Gigafactory Berlin Construction
Tesla’s ‘Giga Berlin’ factory is yet to receive final sign-off from local officials, despite being at an advanced stage of construction.

Tesla Gigafactory construction process

Featuring a staggering amount of automated processes, the actual human taskforce of these factories is much lower than anticipated. Since so many machines have replaced human processes, it is far easier to set up production lines than in ‘traditional’ factories.

With Shanghai and Berlin now joining the two American factories, Shanghai in particular was built at astonishing speed. The production plant went from a bare patch of land to producing its first products in under a year.

Part of this incredible speed is thanks to Tesla’s ‘building block’ style system. With a clear plan for their factories, they are able to simply replicate it time and again almost regardless of location. They know exactly how much space, what machinery, and what supporting architecture is needed.

Another reason the buildings go up so quickly is thanks to the way the construction teams work. Instead of finishing one task before beginning the next, the contractors work to a pre-determined sequence, ensuring there is never any downtime between ‘stages’ of building.

“A factory on each inhabited continent”

By utilizing prefabricated construction elements, Tesla saves time by shipping ready-made panels, roofs, and walls to the site, meaning they can simply be ‘slotted’ into place where needed.

There are risks to Tesla’s methods, however. Giga Berlin is under construction despite only having preliminary approval, and is yet to receive a final sign-off. Should this be denied, Tesla may have to tear the whole building down.

With Elon Musk aiming for a production center on “each inhabited continent” Tesla will have plenty of time to perfect and fine-tune its process even further.