California, home of Tesla (TSLA)’s headquarters and electric car plant, joins Nevada, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico in the bidding war for the company’s proposed $5 billion “Gigafactory”.
In a conference call following the release of Tesla’s first-quarter earnings, CEO Elon Musk said the Golden State is back in the running as a potential site for his giant factory, where lithium-ion batteries for Tesla electric cars will be built.
Musk was cautious, characterizing California’s chances in the “improbable but not impossible” category for landing the facility.
He noted that California’s strict planning and environmental review regulations make the lithium-ion cell factory difficult to complete as a project in time to meet Tesla’s needs. He says he fears it will take too long to get the plant going.[via USAToday] “What we couldn’t afford was waiting like a year or more,” Musk says. “In other states, it’s much more streamlined approach.”
Musk also said he wants to break ground on two Gigafactory locations, one next month and a second later on this year, ratcheting up anticipation of which states he’ll choose. The first batteries however, won’t roll off the Gigafactory assembly line until 2017 at the earliest.
The plant, which could have an annual capacity of 500,000 EV batteries a year, will need up to 1,000 acres and could need as many as 6,500 employees, according to Tesla. The goal is to create lithium-ion batteries on a scale that will bring Tesla one step closer to a $35K Model E.
Separately, Musk said his company had signed a letter of intent with battery supplier Panasonic in connection with the battery plant project.
Shares of Tesla closed at $182 and change on Friday.