The World’s Largest Factories

At the end of this month, Tesla will organize a special event to celebrate the opening of the enormous Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, just outside of Reno (Nevada).

Although it will take another 4 years, until the Gigafactory 1 reaches full capacity, the name is hinting that more will follow. German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently confirmed being in talks with Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the possibility of building ‘Gigafactory 2’ in Germany, the land of Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Daimler (Mercedes is a division of Daimler AG) or Porsche..

The 5 billion USD Gigafactory 1 will produce 500’000 lithium-ion batteries annually to meet demand and thereby ‘will produce more lithium-ion batteries than all other factories in the world combined’, Tesla boss Elon Musk revealed.

When completed, the Gigafactory 1 will be the largest building in the world by footprint and the 4th largest building in the world by floor space with roughly 1.3 million m²according to latest estimates.

Although the Gigafactory 1 – since it’s not yet fully completed – is not part of the ranking of largest factories on this planet, Tesla is nontheless present with the existing Freemont unit. Others could be labeled as ‘the usual suspects’ – from Hyundai’s Ulsan Factory in South Korea to the Boeing near Seattle or Airbus in Toulouse. But I didn’t expect to find a lingerie producer in Latvia among ‘The World’s Largest Factories’:

  1. NASA Vehicle Assembly Building

Located in Florida, this 32’374 m² facility was built by NASA in 1966 for the assembly of the Saturn V rocket. It’s doors are 150 meters tall.

nasa assembly


  1. Meyer Werft Dockhalle 2

Owned and managed by the Meyer family for six generations, this is the largest shipbuilding hall used to construct cruise ships. It’s located in Papenburg, Germany, and is 63’000 m² in size.

dockhalle 2

  1. Lauma Fabrics

An unexpected entry on this list, this factory produces raw materials and lace for lingerie. It’s about five football fields long, and two wide. Located in Latvia, the facility is 115,645 m² in total area.


  1. Jean-Luc Lagardère Plant

It’s no surprise that aircraft assembly plants are among some of the world’s largest factories. This Airbus plant is in Toulouse (France) and is 122,500 m² in size.


  1. Mitsubishi Motors North America

For automotive companies, size means economies of scale. This plant was set up in 1981 in Illinois to oversee Mitsubishi’s manufacturing, production, sales, and R&D in North America. This 220,000 m² facility ended production in late 2015 because of the company’s shift to focusing on Asian markets.


  1. Belvidere Assembly Plant

Also located in Illinois, this factory is owned by Chrysler. It was constructed in 1965 and takes up a whopping 330,000 m² of space. It’s where the Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, and Dodge Dart get assembled.


  1. Boeing Factory

Just outside of Seattle is the world’s biggest aircraft assembly operation by size (398’000 m²). This is where the 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliner get built. It’s also the largest building in the world by volume.


  1. Tesla Factory

Not to be confused with the Gigafactory 1 (see introduction) this is Tesla’s current principal production facility for its cars in Fremont, California. It uses 10 of the largest robots in the world, and has a 510’000 m² footprint.

tesla factory

  1. Hyundai Motor Company Ulsan Factory

This is 10x bigger than the Tesla Factory, located in South Korea. It’s over 5’000’000 m²and is Hyundai’s main production facility. Amazingly, it employs 34,000 personnel, while having facilities often reserved for entire cities. The factory has its own hospital, port, and fire station.


  1. Volkswagen Wolfsburg Plant

Weighing in at #1 on the “World’s Largest Factories” list is Volkswagen’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany at 6’500’000 m². It edges out Hyundai’s entry by about 1.5 million m². It’s the biggest car plant in the world and also Volkswagen AG’s headquarters.



Tesla’s ‘Gigafactory 1’ (east of Reno, Nevada) will be the largest building in the world by footprint and the 4th largest building in the world by floor space.

tesla gigafactory

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