Power move: Tesla will stoke growth, career opportunities in region

Tesla's Diarmuid O'Connell addresses the audience at the Atlantis.

Tesla's Diarmuid O'Connell addresses the audience at the Atlantis.

Making sense of Tesla Motors’ gigafactory battery plant now rising east of Reno means taking a few steps back to see the bigger picture.

This was the message offered at the business conference by guest speaker Diarmuid O’Connell, the company’s vice president of business development.

While many in the audience at the Atlantis Ballroom oohed and aahed at cool car pictures being shown on the screen — the upcoming Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles — O’Connell deftly invited the audience to come along on a ride which detailed how the company is driving not only auto making, but “pushing the frontiers” of energy storage, he said.

Job opportunities at Tesla’s northern Nevada facility are also on the horizon for a new crop of scientists, engineers and technicians in “all disciplines.” So are advanced manufacturing jobs, many to be filled by workers coming from northern Nevada trade schools, community colleges and universities.

“The new manufacturing jobs aren’t banging metal anymore,” he added.

Not only did O’Connell describe the game changing nature of electric vehicles in fostering a cleaner environment, he also touted the economies of scale brought by inexpensive battery storage for industrial and residential clients.

Tesla intends to “productize” battery packs for a variety of users, said O’Connell of the plant, a joint venture between Tesla and Panasonic, with plans to begin production by 2017.

“It’ll be like the $3,000 cellphone of the 1980s,” said O’Connell, likening the disruptive nature of affordable mobile phones to commerce and business.

Cheap battery storage will prove as disruptive to the energy industry as the cellphone has been to telecommunications, said O’Connell.

He said he always gets a kick out of the tours kids take of the company’s Fremont, Calif. manufacturing plant. “The visits always seem to stoke their imaginations,” he said.

Speaking of imagination, O’Connell said a strategic new hire at the northern Nevada plant brings an interesting pedigree.

Jens Peter Olson, who formerly worked for a legendary Danish toy maker, will be managing the gigafactory.

“Jens is from Lego and they are renowned for precision manufacturing,” said O’Connell.


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