pedal to the metal

Tesla gears up for 500,000-square-foot expansion of Texas factory

The electric vehicles producer is already plotting an expansion. Courtesy of Tesla

Less than a year after Tesla opened its factory in Texas, the maker of electric vehicles is already plotting an expansion.

A permit application filed June 29 with the City of Austin and approved July 1 shows Austin-based Tesla plans to build a two-floor, 500,000-square-foot space to enlarge its General Assembly 2 and General Assembly 3 operations. Currently, Tesla produces Model Y vehicles at the 2,500-acre site, which is along State Highway 130 near State Highway 71 East.

The 500,000-square-foot expansion, first reported by Tesla watcher Sawyer Merritt, would grow the size of the factory by more than 11 percent.

Production at the plant began late last year. In April, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk hosted an invitation-only grand opening bash at the factory.

The Tesla permit doesn’t indicate how much the expansion will cost. But we can get an idea by looking at how much the factory cost to build.

Paperwork filed last year with the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration identified $1.06 billion in construction expenses for nearly 4.3 million square feet of space. That works out to $247 per square foot. If you apply that figure to the proposed expansion, it would cost nearly $124 million. Of course, that’s a rough estimate, and construction costs have gone up since the existing factory was finished.

The proposed expansion comes as overall production at Tesla’s plants has tapered off. According to the Reuters news service, analysts predict Tesla will report second-quarter deliveries of 295,078 vehicles. That would be below the record-setting total of 310,048 vehicle deliveries in the first quarter.

It’s not known precisely how many vehicles Tesla is producing at the Austin plant, but industry insiders estimate the total ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 vehicles per week. The Electrek blog says Tesla is aiming to manufacture 10,000 vehicles per week there by the end of this year.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Here's what Houston research news dominated this year on InnovationMap. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: As 2022 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. In many cases, innovative startups originate from meticulous research deep within institutions. This past year, InnovationMap featured stories on these research institutions — from their breakthrough innovations to funding fueling it all. Here are five Houston research-focused articles that stood out to readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.


Texas nonprofit cancer research funder doles out millions to health professionals moving to Houston

These cancer research professionals just got fresh funding from a statewide organization. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Thanks in part to multimillion-dollar grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, two top-flight cancer researchers are taking key positions at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Pavan Reddy and Dr. Michael Taylor each recently received a grant of $6 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Reddy is leaving his position as chief of hematology-oncology and deputy director at the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center to become director of the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. C. Kent Osborne stepped down as the center’s director in 2020; Dr. Helen Heslop has been the interim director. Continue reading.

Rice University deploys grant funding to 9 innovative Houston research projects

Nine research projects at Rice University have been granted $25,000 to advance their innovative solutions. Photo courtesy of Rice

Over a dozen Houston researchers wrapped up 2021 with the news of fresh funding thanks to an initiative and investment fund from Rice University.

The Technology Development Fund is a part of the university’s Creative Ventures initiative, which has awarded more than $4 million in grants since its inception in 2016. Rice's Office of Technology Transfer orchestrated the $25,000 grants across nine projects. Submissions were accepted through October and the winners were announced a few weeks ago. Continue reading.

Houston researchers create unprecedented solar energy technology that improves on efficiency

Two researchers out of the University of Houston have ideated a way to efficiently harvest carbon-free energy 24 hours a day. Photo via Getty Images

Two Houstonians have developed a new system of harvesting solar energy more efficiently.

Bo Zhao, the Kalsi Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, along with his doctoral student Sina Jafari Ghalekohneh, have created a technology that theoretically allows solar energy to be harvested to the thermodynamic limit, which is the absolute maximum rate sunlight can be converted into electricity, as reported in a September article for Physical Review Applied.

Traditional solar thermophotovoltaics (STPVs), or the engines used to extract electrical power from thermal radiation, run at an efficiency limit of 85.4 percent, according to a statement from UH. Zhao and Ghalekohneh's system was able to reach a rate of 93.3 percent, also known as the Landsberg Limit. Continue reading.

Texas A&M receives $10M to create cybersecurity research program

Texas A&M University has announced a new cybersecurity-focused initiative. Photo via tamu.edu

Texas A&M University has launched an institute for research and education regarding cybersecurity.

The Texas A&M Global Cyber Research Institute is a collaboration between the university and a Texas A&M University System engineering research agency, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The research agency and Texas A&M are also home to the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.

The institute is funded by $10 million in gifts from former Texas A&M student Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist and cybersecurity expert, and other donors. Continue reading.

Houston research organization doles out $28M in grants to innovators across Texas

Houston-based Welch Foundation has awarded almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. Photo via Getty Images

Chemical researchers at seven institutions in the Houston area are receiving nearly $12.9 million grants from the Houston-based Welch Foundation.

In the Houston area, 43 grants are going to seven institutions:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Rice University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M University Health Science Center
  • University of Houston
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston

The Welch Foundation is awarding almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. The money will be allocated over a three-year period. Continue reading.

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