Elon Musk and Tesla have big plans. The Model S, Model X, and Model 3 are all in production. The Cybertruck, Model Y, and Tesla Semi are in the pipeline and Tesla is running out of room at its Fremont location. Last year saw the opening of a new factory outside of Shanghai, China. This year, construction has begun on another new factory near Berlin. But won’t America need a second factory soon?
The answer is yes, and Elon has been dropping hints on that very subject recently. In February, he asked on Twitter about building a factory in Texas and got an enthusiastic response.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 5, 2020
This week, he took to Twitter again to suggest a new US factory is indeed starting to be planned and that it will be located somewhere in the central part of the country. In a subsequent tweet, he announced the new factory will also build Model Y SUVs for the eastern part of the country.
Scouting locations for Cybertruck Gigafactory. Will be central USA.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 11, 2020
Tech Crunch says it has spoken with a confidential source who claims Nashville is on the short list of cities under consideration and that negotiations between the company and the city are well underway. Tech Crunch was unable to verify that report.
Nashville would make a lot of sense. It is shaping up to be a major manufacturing hub for electric cars. Nissan has been building the LEAF there since 2013 and Volkswagen has begun an $800 million expansion of its existing Nashville factory to get it ready to build the upcoming ID.4 electric SUV. That EV goes into production in Germany later this year, but US production at the Nashville factory is expected to begin in 2022.
A comment to the Tech Crunch story by Patrick MacAuley bears repeating. “Very smart move. Center of America is truck country, so Tesla will build trucks where the customers are. Center of America is lagging in EV adoption, partly because EVs are considered a California thing. Once Middle Americans see how clean, powerful, and economical EVs are, things will change fast.” Here’s hoping MacAuley is correct in his prognostications.
There is a backstory here that is worth mentioning. There are idle auto factories all through the American Midwest — particularly in Ohio and Michigan. Both have a deep pool of former auto workers just waiting for a chance to be gainfully employed building vehicles once again. But the lure of available factory space and a trained workforce are apparently not enough to tempt Tesla to locate there.
Perhaps the experience of converting the former Toyota/GM factory in Fremont has taught Tesla it is better to build a dedicated EV factory from the ground up rather than repurpose a 20th century facility to meet the needs of a 21st century enterprise. It’s all part of building “the machine that builds the machine” that Elon talks about frequently. Always remember he is as intent on disrupting the manufacturing sector as he is intent on disrupting the transportation sector. His influence extends far beyond making electric cars.
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