Exclusive: Tesla Model 3 Photo Shoot at the Gigafactory

Go Behind the Scenes at our Model 3 Photo Shoot

Go Behind the Scenes at our Model 3 Photo Shoot

Make sure to check back frequently for updates.

We’re honored to be the first media outlet of any kind to get time with the Model 3, especially at the much-talked-about Gigafactory.

Immediately after Tesla revealed the all-new Model 3 last month and gave us a ride, we iPhoned Tesla’s PR department and asked if we could shoot the Model 3 at the Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada with CEO Elon Musk. The answer came back: “Maybe. Please hold.” As Model 3 pre-orders shot from 180,000 on the first day to nearly 400,000 at last count, we checked back in, pleaded, cajoled, and finally secured two out of three: a slick silver Model 3 at the Gigafactory. Turns out the guy who lands rockets on barges floating in the Atlantic is a little too busy for us.

But that’s more than OK. We’re honored to be the first media outlet of any kind to get time with the Model 3, especially at the much-talked-about Gigafactory. So we’ve pulled out all the stops. We’re flying in Motor Trend testing director and resident Tesla expert, Kim Reynolds, for the day so that he can make his sage observations and insightful analysis. Yesterday, we stuffed a crack team of Motor Trend staffers into our long-term Honda Pilot and Kia Sedona and drove nearly 500 miles (805 km) north to Reno.

10:23 a.m.

Our first ever, exclusive photo shoot of the Model 3 is taking place at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1. This is not actually in Reno — that’s just the biggest little city nearby. Tesla’s massive battery factory is 29 miles (47 km) east of Reno near the town of Sparks, Nevada. Sparks. Yes. Purely coincidental I’m sure.

Having read about Tesla’s plans for the Gigafactory, it’s quite an amazing sight to see up close. In the metric system, giga means billion (100,000,000), which is the scale that comes to mind as you approach the security booth. Billions of dollars, billions of pounds of earth moved, steel assembled, and billions of feet of electric wiring. The Gigafactory iscurrently is only about 14 percent complete, yet its footprint so far is about 800,000 square feet, with 1.9 million square feet of manufacturing space spread across four stories, according the local newspaper, the Reno Gazette-Journal. When completed in 2020, the Gigafactory’s footprint will be 5.8 million square feet, or about the same area as 100 football fields. This will give it one of the largest footprints of any building in the world, although according to Wikipedia, it will be behind the Aalsmeer Flower Auction building in the Netherlands which has a whopping 10.6 million square feet.

What’s Tesla going to do with all of this space? Produce lithium-ion batteries for use in Tesla vehicles and home/business storage products. Currently, the cells partners including Panasonic. According to Reynolds, the automotive equivalent is akin to Ford‘s iconic River Rouge plant. Currently no cells or batteries are being produced at the Gigafactory, they’re shipped in from Tesla’s Fremont, California facility. Workers at the Gigafactory are assembling Tesla Powerwall battery packs (for home use) and Powerpacks (for industrial use).

Eventually, when this $5 billion dollar investment is complete, Tesla hopes to produce 35 gigawatt-hours of battery power. That would be enough to power 500,000 Teslas. More updates coming, including a Facebook Live broadcastin acouple hours. Find tons of behind the scenes footage on Snapchat (motor.trend).

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On board with us are ace shooters — Brian Vance and Robin Trajano handling still photography, master storyteller/producer Travis Labella on video and drone, and social media manager Chris Bacarella, who will be broadcasting our shoot across Twitter and Instagram. Speaking of broadcast, we will be updating live from the shoot via Snapchat (motor.trend) and Facebook Live, as we did yesterday:

To be the first to receive our updates, be sure to add motor.trend on Snapchat and click the follow button while we’re broadcasting on Facebook Live. For tips on how to use Facebook Live, go here.

So that’s what we’re doing all day, right here. Keep hitting refresh for LIVE updates on the Tesla Model 3 and Gigafactory. Stay tuned

Under this Electric Avenue sign, in the distance, is the Tesla Gigafactory

Tesla Model 3 photos from the automaker and from the launch event: