What will Elon Musk announce at his secretive Tesla "product unveiling" on October 17th? An electric motorcycle? Lidar and HD maps in his self-driving cars? A flux capacitor? Or our personal favorite: an actual Iron Man flying suit?
We hope it's all of the above.
We do know this much because we recently put a photographer on his factory floor in Fremont, California: He's going to be cranking up the output to an unprecedented level, using a series of high-tech robots, lasers and other cool stuff you'll see below. Tesla recently asked Fremont's planning commission to let it nearly double the size of the 5.3 million-square-foot facility. That's so Musk can churn out 1 million cars a year by the end of 2020, a Tony Stark-size promise and a grand leap from the 50,580 he rolled out last year.
Whatever Musk is up to, he does not shy away from grand statements. His Master Plan, Part Deux for Tesla’s future, which he posted online in July, ten years after his first master plan, calls for cars with solar roofs and even the ability to make money for their owners when they’d otherwise be garaged. (Yeah, he's talking to you Uber). Musk's high-minded vision is already a high-tech reality in Fremont, where PopSci trained its lenses this year.
This article was originally published in the September/October 2016 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Inside The Tesla Factory”