Tesla’s massive Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada is expanding weeks after kicking off production of lithium-ion batteries. The electric carmaker and clean energy storage company is planning to invest $350 million in a project to manufacture electric motors and gearboxes for the Model 3 — Tesla’s first affordable EV, which is priced at $35,000 before tax incentives and is expected to hit the assembly line this year. Tesla will hire an additional 550 people for the project on top of the 6,500 workers the company has already committed to employing at the Gigafactory.
The expansion news was revealed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval during his State of the State address on Tuesday and confirmed by Tesla. Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, told the newspaper the Nevada Appeal that he expects Tesla will eventually have 10,000 workers at the site, which when completed will be the biggest building in the world with a footprint of 10 million square feet. According to Tesla, the Gigafactory will indirectly create another 20,000 to 30,000 jobs in the surrounding area.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s goal is to make 500,000 mostly Model 3 electric cars by the end of 2018 and one million EVs by 2020. The cars are assembled at the company’s Fremont, California factory. The city recently approved a major expansion of the facility that includes 11 new buildings covering 4.6 million square feet of manufacturing space. The city anticipates that the factory expansion will increase employment by 3,100 workers.
Tesla is also planning to build a second gigafactory in Europe, with the location still to be announced. Gigafactory 2 will manufacture both lithium-ion batteries and electric cars.