Tesla to expand Giga Shanghai, add pouch cell production: report

Tesla China is reportedly seeking regulatory approval to expand Giga Shanghai, as per a public notice. The notice also suggests that the electric vehicle maker may plan to produce pouch-type battery cells in the Shanghai plant.

If approved, the potential expansion is expected to pave the way for Giga Shanghai to produce 1.75 million powertrain units annually, up from the current 1.25 million. The notice did not indicate whether Tesla was already fully committed to moving ahead with the expansion of its China plant or if the company is only seeking approval for potential future capacity.

Interestingly, the notice also hinted that the automaker is aiming to secure clearance to produce pouch-type battery cells. A trial production line for the battery cells would reportedly have an initial annual capacity to produce 20,000-amp-hours of cells, as per a Reuters report. That’s a small amount, likely enough for only a few units of the Model Y or Model 3.

The references to pouch cells in the notice are quite interesting, especially since the electric vehicle maker has mostly used cylindrical batteries over the years. Pouch cells have been used in electric vehicles, but none of them have made an impact on the automotive market on a scale similar to the Model 3 sedan or the Model Y crossover.

Tesla is also looking to set up new facilities to recycle chemicals for wastewater treatment in the plant. This is likely part of Tesla’s efforts to ensure that its plants are as environmentally friendly as possible. This was particularly highlighted in Giga Berlin, where Tesla noted that it would need the same amount of water even if it doubled the plant’s capacity.

Tesla China did not respond to a request for comment.

Tesla’s Shanghai plant, its largest worldwide by volume, produced about 726,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in 2022, accounting for more than half of the automaker’s global sales. Tesla’s footprint in China is expected to grow as well, as the company is also looking to build a dedicated Megapack battery factory in the country. A Megapack factory in China may boost Tesla Energy in the same way that Giga Shanghai boosted the company’s electric vehicle business.

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