Elon Musk

Elon Musk Talks About Tesla's Progress With Its Alien Dreadnought Factory

Elon Musk Talks About Tesla's Progress With Its Alien Dreadnought Factory

Featured Image Credit: Jason Yang/YouTube

During the recently-held Q2 2020 Earnings Call, CEO Elon Musk discussed some of Tesla’s progress with its Alien Dreadnought factory concept. According to Musk, some of Tesla’s facilities today could be considered as a precursor to the Alien Dreadnought, though the facility itself should not be considered as something that is exclusively about automation.

The discussions about the Alien Dreadnought were brought about by an inquiry from an institutional investor, who asked if the thinking behind the facility has evolved. The concept, after all, has largely been pushed to the background following the Model 3 ramp. The Alien Dreadnought was Elon Musk’s vision of a hyper-automated vehicle factory that could function largely without human input. Unfortunately, over-automation forced Tesla to adopt a more human-centric approach to Model 3 production.

According to Elon Musk in the Q2 2020 Earnings Call, there’s far more engineering required to create the Alien Dreadnought factory compared to the company’s products. That said, Tesla’s current facilities such as Giga Nevada could be considered as “Version 0.5” of the Alien Dreadnought, and the company is now approaching a legitimate “Version 1” of the facility. Giga Berlin and Giga Shanghai would likely represent these improvements.

“We’re bringing a massive amount of effort into manufacturing and engineering the machine that makes the machine. There’s probably 1,000%, maybe 10,000% more engineering required for the factory than for the product itself. So we’re certainly making progress. Battery and powertrain factory — Gigafactory in Nevada is on an Alien Dreadnought version 0.5 something like that. So we’re starting to approach Version 1.

“We’re getting way better at making cars. You can see that in Giga Shanghai. You’ll see that even more with Berlin. And we’re really changing the design of the car in order to make it more manufacturable. The fundamental architecture of Model Y will be different in Berlin. It may look the same, but the internals will be quite different and fundamentally more efficient architecturally than what we’ve done to date,” the CEO said.

Senior Vice President of Powertrain and Energy Engineering Drew Baglino expanded on Musk’s statements, adding that the Alien Dreadnought concept should not be thought of as just purely automation. Instead, it is a way to minimize the number of process steps and complexity involved in manufacturing cars.

“Yeah, I was going to expand on that thought. I think part of the Alien Dreadnought concept is not just automation but minimizing the number of process steps and complexity involved in the manufacturing system, which involves really integrating design and manufacturing across something like when the raw materials enter the factory, to the finished goods exit. And we’re learning so much through doing that,” he said.

The subtle steps towards Tesla’s Alien Dreadnought factory could be seen in the development of facilities like Gigafactory Shanghai, which are evidently optimized for efficiency. The same is true for other sites like Giga Berlin and potentially, Giga Austin as well. Overall, Tesla seems to be mastering the art of building a better factory for less money in less time. And that, ultimately, is the key to rolling out an actual Alien Dreadnought.

About the Author

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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