Opening ceremony with Musk: “The factory is the product”: Tesla’s Gigafactory in Austin is to produce cybertrucks, batteries and robots
new York Instead of loud fireworks, drones will initially rise quietly into the Texas night sky on Thursday evening local time. Remote-controlled aircraft form spirals, rings and finally the silhouette of a Tesla car. The gigantic factory in Austin, the capital and at the same time the tech center of the US state of Texas, is brightly lit, electronic beats thump. Then it’s time for the thousands of invited guests and the many viewers via internet stream – wait.
The big show with Tesla boss Elon Musk should start at nine o’clock local time, a “cyber rodeo”. But Musk is late. Then it gets dark in the hall, a video shows a cowboy chasing Tesla vehicles over a paddock instead of cows. Shortly before half past nine, the richest person in the world drives in – in the first roadster ever produced by Tesla from 2008. The new edition is planned for 2023.
Musk wears a black cowboy hat and dark sunglasses. The thousands of supporters in the hall applauded. In the front row, two female fans burst into tears of joy. “You are our hero,” shouts the audience. “To the moon!”
Musk laughs and thanks. Then he speaks acquitted, as usual somewhat choppy, but clearly resolved. And he goes far. “When we started at Tesla, we thought we might have a 10 percent chance of being successful.” They took on the gigantic traditional auto industry. “But thanks to the incredible work of the Tesla team, we made it.”
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Today, two-thirds of all electric cars sold in the US are Tesla, Musk says. “It’s crazy.” With the new Gigafactory they want to continue the success story. In contrast to the opening of the Tesla factory in Grünheide two weeks ago, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz and federal and state ministers were present, the start in Texas is more like a party for fans.
Politicians are not to be seen – Musk denies the show almost alone. Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler, who has campaigned heavily for Tesla, will not be asked to take the stage. “Thank you Austin and thank you Travis County,” Musk says tersely.
The Gigafactory is compared with other large buildings on a chart. “As you can see, the building is not small,” jokes Musk. If you turn the factory upside down, it is 1166 meters tall – taller than the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai.
“The factory is the product,” Musk exclaims, alluding to the high degree of automation. In fact, there are hardly any people to be seen in the production video that is displayed. The Tesla boss explains that new processes are being tested in Austin. “We build our own battery cells, using the most advanced technology. We believe that one day this will be the largest battery factory in the world.”
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And “full self-driving”, a real autopilot, can now be offered in the beta version in 2022. “It will revolutionize the world,” says Musk, and make driving ten times safer. At least that’s what he says.
The beta version will be made available to all Autopilot customers in America later this year. It’s a promise that he had repeatedly made in previous years – and had to keep quietly and secretly.
Musk did not announce a new model in Austin, but the mass production of four models in Texas: the crossover Model Y, the mid-size car Model 3, the overdue pick-up Cybertruck and the truck Semi.
Cybertrucks and robots
This year was about growth. Starting next year, Musk said the Roadster, Cybertruck and Semi electric truck will go into production. “Sorry for the postponement.”
A shiny silver Cybertruck drives onto the stage. Musk goes into raptures. “We will start building the Cybertruck here in the coming year,” he announces. The hall cheers. “I can’t wait to see this baby in production.”
The delay – the truck was actually supposed to go into production as early as 2021 – was used to revise it. For example, the door handles have been removed. “Who needs grips? The car knows you’re there,” Musk said. Soon it seems as if the Tesla boss wants to take up Steve Jobs’ legendary phrase “one more thing”.
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The new location finally brings the necessary space, now the machines would start up. For example, Giga Texas will build half a million Model Ys a year. “It’s going to be America’s highest output car factory.”
And new records are planned for the coming years. “We’ve shipped over a million cars in 12 months,” Musk said. Two-thirds of American electric cars are Teslas. But: You only cover a good one percent of global car production. “We want to get to 20 percent.”
Musk gives little insight into other future projects. Yes, there will be a robot taxi with its own shape. In addition, the development of the humanoid Tesla robot is progressing. “It’s exciting to see Optimus in development,” announces the 50-year-old – and promises that the Android will be safe, “not a terminator” and change the world more than your own electric cars.
Musk then climbs into the Cybertruck with no door handles and drives off the stage. The Tesla party can start. It starts with the “Allegro Con Brio” from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – and a big firework display. Fire Marshall Callaway approved it shortly before the end.
More: A look at the Gigafactory Grünheide – This is how Tesla builds a car every 45 seconds.