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Tesla preps for Gigafactory grand opening in Nevada tonight

Tesla's first battery packs from the plant will be for energy storage, then for vehicles.

Tesla Motors will hold the grand opening event for its Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada, tonight, and by all accounts, the plant is big. Very big. For starters, Tesla has already taken out building permits worth $386 million, and will have parking for 2,000 cars at the plant, Teslarati says. Heck, the "temporary tent structure" used for tonight's event was $300,000 alone. And Tesla's battery-making partner Panasonic has taken out two permits itself for a combined $16.2 million.

This is merely the beginning, though. Tesla said this week that the Gigafactory will eventually employ about 10,000 workers, or 50 percent more than previously forecast, says Electrek. The goal is to bring battery costs down to $100 per kilowatt hour by the end of the decade, which will help Tesla's aim to be an energy/power company in addition to a vehicle maker. In fact, Tesla is already making battery packs for energy storage – Tesla will start making the first vehicle battery packs at the factory in six months, and those will be developmental packs for the Model 3. Model S and Model X battery-pack production is about nine months out, according to Electrek.

Tesla chief Elon Musk also said this week that the company may expand into car-sharing as well as electric truck and bus production, even if it's a money-losing proposition (not exactly a foreign concept to Tesla). Eventually, such efforts will be supported by the Model 3, which Tesla forecasts will be produced at a rate of 500,000 units per year by 2018, at which point the model will generate $20 billion a year in revenue and $5 billion in gross profit, says Hybrid Cars.

As for the current state of the $5 billion factory, which will eventually total about 10 million square feet, it's about 14 percent complete and already employs 1,000 people, according to Wired. Finally, Teslarati has some pictures taken at a media event at the Gigafactory earlier this week here.

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