Tesla to open its Gigafactory years ahead of schedule

Tesla, the company building a $5 billion gigantic factory of lithium-ion batteries in the Nevada desert, has doubled the labour force working on the construction phase of the project with the goal of opening it ahead of schedule.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Elon Musk’s company wants to have the factory ready for the launch of its Model 3, a $35,000 car meant to be a more affordable version of its high-end electric sedans and sports cars, by early next year.

It now has 1,000 construction workers on two shifts, seven days a week to ready for the launch of its Model 3 early next year.

The original projected completion date for the project was 2020. But Musk now has 1,000 construction workers on two shifts, seven days a week, the paper reports.

The plant, which sits on 3,000 acres, is now about one-sixth its final size. Once it's finished, Tesla expects the 13 million square-foot plant to make more lithium-ion batteries than the total produced in the entire world in 2013.

Ramping up construction of Gigafactory, and subsequently also production, is essential to help Tesla meet a goal of reaching a 500,000-unit annual vehicle production pace within two years.

At the same time, Tesla’s manufacturing team in Fremont, California, is working hard to fill the 400,000 advance orders received for the company’s $35,000 Model 3 electric sedan due in 2017.

The Palo Alto-based company will hold a “grand opening” of the factory later this week.

Next week, the youngest US carmaker will release second-quarter results and update shareholders on the outlook for the remainder of 2016.