Musk has doubled the number of people working on the factory in an effort to open it ahead of schedule, according to the Wall Street Journal. The goal is to generate vast quantities of lithium-ion batteries by early 2017, in time for the launch of Tesla's lower-priced electric vehicle, the $35,000 Model 3.
The original projected completion date for the project was 2020. Musk now has 1,000 workers constructing the factory on two shifts, seven days a week. The ramp-up comes in the wake of a hugely successful reservation period for the Model 3, during which Tesla received nearly 400,000 preorders, blowing through even the most liberal first-year projections within 24 hours.
The factory, which sits on 3,000 acres of desert just outside Reno, Nevada. It's now about one-sixth its final size. Once it's finished, Musk says the 13 million square-foot plant will be able to produce more lithium-ion batteries than were produced in the entire world in 2013.
The Tesla factory is already being used to build Tesla's Powerwall and Powerpack home batteries, which pull energy from solar panels and the power grid and store it for later use. The plant is currently importing the battery cells from Panasonic. The goal is for the factory to become self-sufficient, giving workers the ability to build both the car and home batteries from start to finish.
Last week, Musk wrote a blog post reiterating his intention to combine Tesla with SolarCity, the solar energy company he co-founded that's currently run by his cousin. Musk's vision is to create battery-operated cars that get their energy from solar panels on the owner's roof.
Musk is known for being ruthlessly productive, so his desire to ramp up the pace on the Gigafactory isn't surprising. He's been quoted in the past as saying that he hates vacations and wishes his body didn't require him to waste time eating food. Whether the goal of bringing the factory online by next year is attainable remains to be seen. The factory will be holding its symbolic grand opening on Friday geared toward loyal Tesla customers, so stay tuned for more insight.