California is back in Tesla’s gigafactory game

Since February, speculation on where Tesla Motors will build its “gigafactory” has centered on the four Southwestern states that Tesla named as finalists for the massive battery plant: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. (My bet: Nevada)

Now California is apparently back in the game – though the chances of actually winning the big economic development sweepstakes seem slim.

CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday that Gov. Jerry Brown and his staff are working hard to make California a “significant candidate” for the gigafactory, but that Tesla needs to move fast on permits and construction. Tesla wants to break ground on the gigafactory next month, and speed is not exactly California’s forte.

“I don’t think we did a good a job of explaining why California wasn’t on the list of four states to begin with and it’s just because this is a large Greenfield construction project,” said Musk during a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s Q1 earnings. “California has quite a complex and lengthy process for approval of Greenfield sights. So what we couldn’t afford was waiting like a year or more for kind of to proceed, which would I think also make sure no environmental impact of any significance, but it would just take a long time for the California Regulatory Agencies to process information that they would need to for their obligations on the California Law. Whereas in other states it’s much more streamlined approach.”

Tesla can’t get stuck in a situation where workers in Fremont are ready to make cars but the battery packs aren’t ready.

“The Governor and Legislature are going to try to do something about that, but I think the question of timing is still a big one, and then we also need to make sure that the ongoing operational costs of the Gigafactory are not significantly worse than other states,” said Musk. “So I think like I said, I think California’s still in the sort of improbable, but not of being impossible category at this point.”

It’s not clear what California can offer Tesla, though Governor Brown has taken steps to reform CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act.

“The administration is working every day to bring companies to California and help them grow here,” said a spokesperson from GO-Biz, or the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “Tesla is certainly one of those companies.”

Tesla also said that it has a “letter of intent” signed with Panasonic and that a “joint working team” between Panasonic and Tesla is that is collaborating on a regular basis.

A California Custom Postcard from Legends’ General Store.





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  • jswap

    It’s funny seeing a socialist state try to act like capitalists

    • ttrr

      Just as funny as seeing an asinine comment trying to act like an intelligent one.

      • jswap

        Maybe you need a sense of humor?

  • Tesla_X

    It’s funny how CARB commies so easily give over $100 Million in ZEV credits of the taxpayers money to Elon for non existent battery swap stations for his customers, and then he gets ready to move out of state?

    Losers picking winners!

    Now THAT’S Funny!

  • cohenfive

    There is a zero percent chance that California gets this plant. We have the highest land prices, the highest taxes, the most difficult regulatory regime, etc, etc…This state is the worst for starting a new manufacturing plant, and the company’s comments are pure politics, not economics. The plant belongs in Reno, that is the best place for this facility if the decision is based on economics not politics.

  • Jimmy Pierce

    It’s sad that California is so broken. We were sold on the idea that this state would lead the country (world) in making “Green Jobs”. I even vaguely remember that Green Jobs were one of Jerry’s campaign promises. And now the biggest green job maker in the state going somewhere. If California can’t keep Tesla interested in growing here then why would any other company even try. Clearly whatever is happening in Sacramento is wrong. I hope everyone votes.