Tesla considers another Gigafactory in the USA

According to Elon Musk, Tesla is currently looking for a location for another plant in the USA. The Cybertruck is to be produced there, as well as the Model Y for customers on the US East Coast. Texas is apparently a hot contender in the competition.

Elon Musk said that Tesla has started the search for a suitable site for the production of the Cybertruck. The plan is apparently to manufacture the electric pickup in “Central USA”. Musk himself already spoke of the “Cybertruck Gigafactory”.

This name could probably still change because Musk had already talked about a new nomenclature for his own factories. Instead of numbering the “Gigafactories” (as was the case with Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai), they will in future be called “Giga” followed by the region – the plant in Grünheide will thus be named the “Giga Berlin” and not, as is often assumed, Gigafactory 4.

While the new name is more or less a marginal note, another formulation has caused more confusion: the search in “Central USA”. So far, Tesla was said to already have relatively concrete plans in Texas – Musk himself had started a Twitter poll asking about “Giga Texas?” in early February. The production of a pickup truck in Texas would be obvious due to local demand, but Tesla is currently in a clinch with the Texas government: Tesla is not allowed to sell cars in Texas at the moment. In essence, this is a law that states that new cars may not be sold in the manufacturer’s own shops, but through independent dealers. This is exactly what Tesla does with its stores and has circumvented this regulation in the past in such a way that the order of a customer in Texas (via internet or telephone, not in a Tesla store) was officially processed in another US state.

The fact that Tesla is now looking for a location in “Central USA” instead of just in the huge state of Texas could indicate that the electric car manufacturer has seriously extended its search to other US states – or simply wants to increase political pressure. According to US media, the former could be the case: Apparently, initial talks have been held with representatives of the city of Nashville, Tennessee. According to media outlets, a source close to the talks said that Nashville is on a shortlist of candidates. This could turn Tennessee into some kind of electrification hub: In Smyrna, not far from Nashville, Nissan has been manufacturing the Leaf for the US market since 2013, and in southwest Tennessee, VW is currently expanding its Chattanooga plant to produce the ID.4 and other electric cars. General Motors also operates a large plant in Tennessee, but so far without electric cars, although suppliers and skilled workers are available in the region.

It is also unclear what production capacity the new plant will have. Because of its rather simple shape, the Cybertruck is said to be much less complex to manufacture. However, the plant will not be geared entirely to the Cybertruck and its design: Musk confirmed via Twitter that the plant will also build the Model Y for customers on the US East Coast. Earlier, Musk had indicated that Tesla also had its sights set on “Model Y production for the East Coast”. Later, when asked, he confirmed that this was to be the “Cybertruck Gigafactory” and not another independent plant.

In the construction of the new plant – wherever it will be built – Tesla will have to manage without another proven production manager. According to a CNBC report, Jatinder Dhillon (in the rank of a manufacturing director) has left Tesla. He was at Tesla for seven years and helped the electric car manufacturer open its own seat production and increase production of the Model 3. Since July 2018, Dhillon has been head of Model 3 production.

In the case of the Giga Berlin, it has been shown that it does not always have to be an advantage at Tesla to be the favourite in the race. Only a few experts had the location in Grünheide on their radar; instead, there had been long speculation about a possible production in Lower Saxony or North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Baden-Wuerttemberg had also come up for discussion. Musk himself had once brought Saarland into play when he said that “the German-French border area makes sense” – also with regard to the nearby Benelux countries. In the end, however, Tesla chose Brandenburg.

In Grünheide, meanwhile, Tesla has cleared another hurdle: The Brandenburg Environmental Agency gave the go-ahead for the planning of part of the Grünheide site. Tesla started the levelling work immediately – but at their own risk. As final approval is still pending, the car manufacturer could still be required to restore the original condition of the forest.

With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.

electrek.co, teslarati.com, cnbc.com (Dhillon), techcrunch.com (Nashville), axios.com (Nashville), teslarati.com (Germany)


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