Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 | 10:04 a.m.
The number of jobs to be created by the Tesla gigafactory in Northern Nevada is now expected to surpass original estimates.
More than 10,000 jobs are now forecast to come out of the Tesla plant, or 54 percent more than the 6,500 initial plans for the factory stated, according to Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
Speaking at the joint meeting of the Assembly Committee on Taxation and the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development in Carson City Thursday afternoon, Hill explained the rising employee count.
“When we originally presented the project to Legislature in 2014, we projected 6,500 jobs on site,” Hill said. “The efficiency that’s being created from a functional standpoint at the facility is actually enabling more employees to be employed on the site.”
The gigafactory will be 5 million square feet with five floors of manufacturing when complete, the largest manufacturing facility in the world, Hill said. The gigafactory is already producing battery cells, power walls and battery packs.
The factory now has almost 1,000 permanent employees, 90 percent of whom are Nevadans. Additionally, there are 2,500 construction workers at the site, of whom 60 percent are Nevadans.
Adding to the heightened employee expectations, Hill spoke about a planned addition to the site that will create more jobs along with it.
“At the State of the State address the governor was able to announce that Tesla has announced a second initiative at the site, which is the drivetrain factory for the Model 3,” Hill said. “The drivetrain is comprised of both the electric motors and the gear boxes that you'll see attached to the wheel units which power the car.”
The drivetrain factory represents a $350 million investment and will create 550 additional jobs, Hill said.
Making the factory more efficient has also created more jobs. Initially Tesla designed the factory to produce 35 gigawatt hours battery power annually, but six months ago it announced it had increased the projection to 50 GWh capacity, which Hill said allows employment in the building to increase at a proportional level.
During the company’s 2016 fourth quarter and full year earnings call Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the production at the facility outpaced original estimates.
“Mr. Musk in their earnings call said that they felt they could produce battery capacity now for 1 million cars, and originally that was 500,000,” Hill said. “So the employment prospects at the site continue to improve.”