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Tesla Motors to Build Assembly Plant in New Mexico to Produce WhiteStar Electric Sports Sedan

19 February 2007

Tesla Motors will build its new automobile assembly facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Construction on the 150,000 square foot plant will begin in April 2007, at the latest. The New Mexico plant will be the company’s first assembly facility in the United States, and will produce the WhiteStar, an upcoming four-door, five-passenger all-electric sports sedan.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has directed the state’s General Services Division, and other appropriate agencies, to investigate the purchase of 100 WhiteStar vehicles for the state fleet over a two year period as a demonstration of the state’s commitment to clean energy.

Governor Richardson has also invited Tesla Motors Chairman Elon Musk and Tesla Motors CEO Martin Eberhard to work with the state to develop a package of legislation for the 2008 session to encourage and incentivize the purchase of clean energy vehicles, including hybrid and electric vehicles.

his is a major step toward making New Mexico a center for 'green' manufacturing. In my role as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I will continue crafting policies at the federal level to ensure that the electric cars like those made by Tesla&madsh;and other companies specializing in cutting-edge renewable energy technologies—will eventually be commonplace. I commend Gov. Richardson, Secretary Homans, Gary Tonjes, Clark Krause and Mayor Chavez for working hard to recruit Tesla to our state.

—US Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Several states, including Arizona and California, were in talks with Tesla Motors over locating the WhiteStar assembly plant.

The first cars will roll off the assembly line in the fall of 2009, and Tesla Motors will produce at least 10,000 cars each year. The vehicles will cost $50,000 for the standard model or $65,000 for a premium model with greater performance and range. Tesla Motors begins production of its first vehicle, a zero-emission two seat Roadster, at a facility in England owned by Lotus Cars later this year.

Tesla Corporate Headquarters will continue to be located in San Carlos, California. Tesla recently announced the opening of an R&D facility in Rochester Hills, Mich., north of Detroit, where it expects to grow to a staff of 60 focused on design and engineering for the WhiteStar.

Tesla Motors will receive several incentives from the state, including the high wage job tax credit, the manufacturer’s investment tax credit and assistance from the Job Training Incentive Program.

In addition, Governor Richardson has committed $3.5 million in capital outlay from the 2007 legislative session, and another $3.5 million in capital outlay from the 2008 legislative session. These funds will go to Bernalillo County and be used for building and infrastructure investment related to the facility.

The state’s Economic Development Department worked closely with the Albuquerque Economic Development Department and the New Mexico Economic Development Partnership to close the deal with Tesla Motors. The city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have agreed to assist with development of infrastructure to the site. First Community Bank has agreed to participate as a local lender. SunCal, which recently acquired approximately 57,000 acres on Albuquerque’s west side, pledged at no cost up to 75 acres of land abutting the initial site if the company undertakes a major expansion in the future.

February 19, 2007 in Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (48) | TrackBack (0)

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These cars will sell like hotcakes. Are you listening, Bob Lutz? The Big Three (about to become the Big Two, if rumors are to be believed) need to sit down, pay attention, and take notes.

Yes BlackSun, you are right about that...but then again even at $50K these BEVs will not be for everyone, hence limiting the possibility of spreading the BEV culture properly.

So, instead of high tech wizs from Silicon Valley or "green thinking" Movie Stars, ala Tom Hanks, these cars will be purchased by a step lower [financially speaking]type of person.

Nevertheless, I believe we are on the right track and I hope for better pricing soon!

The perfect BEV [as in most succesful] will be a vehicle priced from $15K to $25K regardless of the type of vehicle, but definitely a 4 door sedan would have the greatest success.

FS

Fear not. Many new technologies start expensive, bought by the rich hipsters. They then become products of lust and desire for 'the masses'. When subsequent generations of product/competitors come out, they are primed to jump on the bandwagon, now that the worth and desirability have been proven, assuming, of course, that the products are in fact worthy. Some don't make it, of course, but this is a product whose time is coming very rapidly.

bankrupcy for telstar, we'll see how many $100,000 and $50,000 plug in can't take it out of state cars they sell after the Limosine libers by 28 of them.

As someone who anticipates batteries tumbling in price and soaring in efficiency over the coming decade, I applaud Tesla's announcement. The very least it will do is alert some big players to recalculate their previous negative assumptions regarding feasibility. Current concerns about the impracticality of distance limitations will evaporate, once the range is seen to extend beyond 100 miles (already there with Tanfield electric trucks), then beyond 250 miles, then 500, then 2500. All of which is only a matter of time now that the race is on.

M.T.:

2500 miles? Now that's a lot of electrons!

Ok but what about the plant it self are they planning on using solar, or wind to help make the car, have you ever seen the rooftop of a large plant. what about the plants water needs that same roof sheds alot of water when it rains. How much of the car can be reused at the end of it's life and is the company going to handle the batterys at the end of there life......ok maybe i'm thinking to much here but just asking

Unless they are somewhere near Ruidoso, I wouldn't expect much rain to roll off the rooftop but it is a prime location (New Mexico) for solar power.

Isn't Governor Richardson a candidate for president?
Would that be a welcomed change or What? From The Oil President to The Sun President!

A $50,000 BEV in 3 years... But when Tom Hanks spends $25K more to get one TODAY, thus investing in an important young industry, he is derided as a "limousine liberal" by some of you right wing clowns. If he spent fifty times as much on a yacht, I guess you guys could relate to that, eh?

>bankrupcy for telstar, we'll see how many $100,000 and >$50,000 plug in can't take it out of state cars they sell >after the Limosine libers by 28 of them.

If your ability to construct an intelligible sentence is any indication of who's betting against Tesla, I'll put my money on Tesla.

George,

Get with the program. Anybody who can afford high cost new technology is obviously a bourgeois pig who has stolen his money from righteous worker bees. Once we tear down the system and everyone has just a little - no one will invest in new tech and we'll all remain driving smoke spewing internal combustion engines. Power to the people!

Sullen,

You wouldn't be making a reference to the worker's paradise of East Germany and their wonderful Trabant which revolutionized the automotive world, would you?
Ever since the development of the PWM controller and regenerative braking, the issue has been batteries. Lead acid had neither adequate weight/range/performance specs nor lifecycle price specs. Now acceptable performance specs can be met, and we are "just working on the price". Anyone who prefers an ice system over electric has not had both in a comparable vehicle. Try a gasoline golf cart and an electric golf cart. No contest. Electrics were the right choice even before electronic controllers. When electric can meet the range and performance specs economically, ice will go away by vote of the marketplace.

Tesla expansion plan is a gamble at best.

All modern Li chemistry rechargeable batteries (including A123) deteriorate to unuseable level in 3-5 years regardless of use pattern. Altair Nano is not clear about their battery shelf life, yet they SUGGESTED that they solved this problem and their battery will last for 10 years.

Now, 3 years is fine for high-tech gadgets such as cell phones, lap tops, or even Tesla roadster. But it is not acceptable for mainstream sedans.

Substantial break-through for Li batteries is necessary for BEV become mainstream. And do not forget, that even if 9 pregnant women will gather together, they will not produce a child in one month.

Allen you're not asking too much there. Tesla is in the perfect position to be a truly sustainable company right from the start and they should grab this opportunity. They should be working to keep the embodied carbon as low as humanly possible and to keep reducing it as processes improve. The corporate world is reaching the point where the sustainable will thrive while the unsustainable will have to adapt or die.

"Altair Nano is not clear about their battery shelf life, yet they SUGGESTED that they solved this problem and their battery will last for 10 years." Actually, in November 2006, they suggested their Nanosafe battery will last 20+ years, 4 times the life (5 years) of other Lithium Ion batteries. And Phoenix Motors lists a claim for "long battery pack life, 250,000 miles/12+years. But as you carefully observed, this second claim could be an artful reference to long cycle life restated in terms of the estimated miles such a cycle life would support, and then simply a statement about how long in years it would take the average driver to rack up 250,000. Hence, a suggestion rather than a definitive statement. Time will tell.

Gents -

New Mexico may receive a lot of sunshine but it is also home to several nuclear labs and Sen. Pete Domenici is the #1 cheerleader for a nuclear power revival in the US.

We can discuss the merits or otherwise of nuclear-powered BEVs vs. fossil-powered ICEs, but please don't fool yourself about the prospects of a solar-powered transportation future, at least in the next couple of decades. Both PV and biofuels are inherently expensive technologies and will only ever cover a relatively small fraction of the total energy required to keep OECD countries mobile.

Huh. If what they say at the blog link below is correct, the WhiteStar will actually be an electric Ford Fusion:

http://jalopnik.com/cars/news/new-mexico-gets-tesla-whitestar-facility--to-produce-an-electric-fusion-237982.php

Anybody see how many they sold at $100,000 ?
I love the technology, just think they have an already proven bad business model.

Rafael, I think it's more in reference to the manufacturing using renewable energy.

But there is the possibility for BEVs to be mostly powered by renewables: what is needed is for the EV manufacturers to educate their customers and persuade them to make the change (assuming everyone in the States can choose to buy renewable electricity. Can they?).

Many of the people who buy EVs will already be switched on to the risks posed by climate change so it wouldn't take much work. They're also likely to be able to afford the increased costs of renewable electricity.

If the manufacturers push renewables right from the outset (maybe negotiating favourable rates with a renewable electricity provider) things can start to change. I'm hopeful that BEVs and PHEVs will actively drive increased development of renewable energy (especially when V2G gets off the ground).

Great to see the Electric Sedan coming to life-via Tesla. It appears that NM Governor Richardson is giving Tesla a nice incentives package to locate their factory in his state.

Unfortunately, 50 grand is too salty for this guy's checkbook, but I'm sure there are others who can afford these, and not so much as flinch. Understandbly, it has to be done this way until the technology can get better and cheaper though. I guess the rest of us have to just wait a while longer.

Does anyone else think that a 150,000 sq. ft. plant seems really small? I'm sure they will be able to build on if need be, but my company has designed some grocery stores that are almost as large as this factory. I guess I just expected one of those 1 million sq. ft. monstrocities like Toyota built in San Antonio, TX.

You do know the 150k square feet is about the size of fords mathroom dont you? Its a very nice start assuming it pans out.

Is the 'mathroom' the room where Ford adds up all their losses for the year? I'm thinking it needs to be a lot bigger than 150,000 square feet.

For Tesla, 150,000 sq ft is probably enough if all they're doing is installing electric drives into Fusion shells.


I hope those of you that think the price will come down are right, however I am very skeptical. The price for a car has never gone down, they just keep getting more expensive with each year. For the last 20 years the price for batteries has done nothing but go up too. I was a teenager in southern Arizona in the early Eigties, thinking surely by 2000 everyone will have solar cells on thier roof. Yeah, has'nt happened, too expensive, cost is more than return, general pop will not buy.

Andrey, I have not seen A123 publish any calendar year numbers but they're in serious discussions with automakers and I guarantee that would not happen if their batteries became unusable after 3-5 years. Battery packs using Valence Saphion LiFePO technology can deliver 20 year float life. A123 is probably similar.

I do wonder about Tesla's battery life. They claim 125k miles (500 cycles @ 250 miles each), but they use regular li-ion. If those packs all start dieing after 3 years/36k miles there are going to be a lot of unhappy rich people.

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