Tesla has hired a new manufacturing executive from Eli Lily to lead its elusive Gigafactory Nevada expansion.
Tesla Gigafactory Nevada was the first major step in Tesla’s effort to secure battery cell supply for its ambitious growth.
The automaker partnered with Panasonic to deploy new battery cell production capacity at the facility, and Tesla used those cells to build battery packs for its vehicles and energy storage products.
When originally announcing the plan for the factory, Tesla was talking about the plant producing 105 GWh of battery cells per year and 150 GWh of battery packs per year once completed.
It was supposed to become the largest building in the world.
However, the factory is currently about 30% complete, and Tesla hasn’t expanded the facility for years as both the automaker and Panasonic have focused on optimizing the current production capacity.
Here’s what the factory is supposed to look like once completed (yellow) and the existing sections with Tesla’s operations (red) and Panasonic’s (blue):
Tesla hasn’t expanded the footprint of the factory in five years at this point, as it focused on optimizing this one and building new ones that include vertically-integrated vehicle production.
Last year, Electrek reported that Tesla finally planned to start adding new sections to the factory.
A few months later, Tesla announced a massive expansion of Gigafactory Nevada to add production of Tesla Semi trucks and 4680 battery cells and to finally expand the factory to its originally planned size.
However, it has been eight months since this announcement, and Tesla has yet to start work on a single new section of the factory.
It’s not clear what the hold-up is, but we now learn that Tesla has hired a new experienced manufacturing executive to lead the effort.
Last month, Tesla hired Michael Hildebrand in the role of “Head of Giga factory Nevada Expansion Engineering and Construction,” according to his LinkedIn profile.
Hildebrand is coming from almost three decades in the pharmaceutical industry, where he led many manufacturing projects – most recently at Eli Lily where he was executive director of projects.
He wrote about his role:
Led a $2B+ capital project for new greenfield parenteral manufacturing site. Responsible for site selection, scope, estimating, scheduling, and project execution. Developed project delivery strategy including a mix of design-build, design-bid-build, and other strategies to optimize for schedule while maintaining tight budget control. Shortened expected timeline for greenfield site concept through in-operation by about 18 months.
Hopefully, it means that we are going to start to see some progress on the expansion at Gigafactory Nevada soon as it is critical to the Tesla Semi and 4680 cell programs.