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Commercial photographer offers first glimpse inside Tesla’s Nevada battery factory


Scott Sonner / AP

Framing of Tesla Motors’ new factory under construction is visible June 14, 2015, behind a security gate on Electric Avenue at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center about 15 miles east of Sparks along U.S. Interstate 80.

Updated Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015 | 10:49 a.m.

Editor's note: This story contained photos from an Instagram account that have since been deleted. UPDATE: Those images were captured by Michael Theis before they were deleted. They are now below.

Since Tesla Motors Inc. broke ground on its 5.5 million-square-foot battery manufacturing plant near Reno last year, the electric car company has remained quiet about its progress, dropping small hints in earning calls, SEC filings and reports for state regulators. Tesla organized no public announcement when it started producing batteries there this fall, more than a year ahead of its timeline. There have been drone flyovers since 2014, but little in terms of on-site photography.

Now it appears the company is opening up its doors — at least to one photographer.

Commercial photographer James Lipman recently posted three images of the battery plant, known as the Tesla Gigafactory, the first shots giving the public a small glimpse of what the factory looks like from the ground level.

The factory, slated for completion in 2020, is expected to be the largest lithium-ion battery factory to date. To build its factory in Nevada, Tesla received a tax incentive package worth more than $1.3 billion. An independent audit recently found that Tesla met conditions, such as hiring and wage requirements, for receiving the tax breaks.

Lipman’s clients include other well-known car companies. While his shots don’t reveal much, they show a charging station outside the factory and a sleek reception area with large glass windows in the style of a car showroom:

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