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Tesla wants $1.6bn to help fund $5bn TOP SECRET Gigafactory

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Tesla Motors has released a smattering of details about its planned battery "Gigafactory", although it was hardly the in-depth announcement people were expecting.

Elon Musk's electric carmaker said the massive plant would be getting $4bn to $5bn of investment in the next six years, around $2bn of which Tesla itself is expecting to pony up.

At least part of that cash will be funded by a bond issue, the firm announced, which it hopes will raise $1.6bn.

All of that money will go towards making the Gigafactory produce more lithium ion batteries annually by 2020 than were produced worldwide in 2013, while driving down the cost per kWh of Tesla's battery pack by over 30 per cent.

The Elon Musk-owned firm handed over just five slides on its blog to fill in the blanks on this ambitious vision. According to the slim presentation, Tesla is hoping that its mega-battery-plant will be producing the battery power for up 500,000 vehicles in 2020, which it will be manufacturing from raw materials.

One slide was almost entirely taken up with a rather amateur rendering of the factory in an as-yet undecided desert-like location, which the firm said could be Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or Texas, surrounded by renewable power sources like solar and wind. Musk could potentially get a solar farm on the cheap, since one of his other companies is solar energy outfit SolarCity.

The factory wouldn't be expected to start production until 2017 at the earliest, after which battery packs from the plant can go directly to Tesla's vehicle assembly line in California at a rate of 50GWh a year by 2020.

If the colour coding of the slides is anything to go on, Tesla has already had its "partner discussions", but although the project mentions these $3bn partners, it hasn't named any of them. Panasonic is almost certainly on the list, since it already provides the firm with batteries and it's reportedly been shopping around for investors in the plant in Japan.

There's also the possibility that Apple is planning to join in the Gigafactory fun. According to some maths by eco-friendly motor website Green Car Reports, Apple is likely to have had battery consumption in fiscal 2013 of around 3GWh, based on its reported sales of 71 million iPads and 150 million iPhones and some rounding up for laptop use. Tesla's cars sucked up a little over half that number at 1.75GWh, so as it stands, Apple would probably like batteries on tap at home in the US as much - if not more than - Tesla.

There's also those secret meetings last week between Elon Musk and Apple, which could well have been discussions about the Gigafactory. ®

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