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

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.

Comments

wintermane

Grrr I could have sworn that was a freaking b not an m dangit I hate dyslexia sometimes.

Richard

they sold 100 at $100,000
I'm guessing they will need alot more than 500 at $50,000 to stay in business.
I hope they do, the customer killed the electric car not GM.

gr

If New Mexico really wants to show its support for new technology (and resultant employment) they would help Tesla set up large scale new gen PV or a solar turbine to augment the plant's power reqs. And a DOE grant for this purpose would direct some US tax dollars to a real practical alternative energy application.

While NM Gov Richardson may be a nuke fan, with the potential solar resources in that state he would be remiss to not position those resources for maximum exposure. This is what leadership is all about - vision and execution.

http://www.energylan.sandia.gov/sunlab/PDFs/nevada.pdf

Neil

Richard, The last sales number I saw for the roadster was somewhere in the order of 350 units. They've sold out the 2007 year (not built yet), and they have a waiting list for the 2008. Considering we are talking about a $100,000 two seat sports car that hasn't been built yet and is only being sold in three cities, I'd say they're doing pretty brisk business. It's not a slam dunk but I think they have a shot at success. As I recall, they are hoping for annual sales of 2000 units per year.

marcus

Update on the Ford Fusion rumour, Darryl Siry, VP Marketing of Tesla Motors says it’s a load of Halibut...

Neil

Just thinking about the floorspace involved. Given the relative simplicity of an electric car compared to an ICE vehicle, I wonder what the relative assembly plant floor space requirements are.

Richard

Neil, I hope they do and we are prob both right.
The 100 number was all they made in 2006, I got that from their website. SO another 100 in 07 and 2 models in 08 they could prob get way over 350 in 3 years.
Prius sells 10,000 per month
That's my point

K

Joseph writes 'the price of a car has never gone down'

That is simply wrong. Not only have car prices went down at various times but they almost always go down relative to inflation and features.

Rrices are falling right now in the US and have been for quite some time. But not for every model and every feature.

Neil

Richard, The 100 from 2006 was their signature line "2007 and a half" model year which is a small run and has yet to be assembled by Lotus. They currently have a waiting list for the 2008 model year. If memory serves, I saw somewhere that there a couple of hundred orders on that waiting list. The target size of the roadster 2008 model year assembly run could be anywhere up to 2,000 units. The target capacity of the New Mexico plant will be a minimum of 10,000 cars per annum.

Richard

Thanks Neil, I agree with you with all 2000 sold for this year and a decent shot at selling 10,000 in 08 they could actually wind up being profitable.
This could lead to a quantum change in the industry, probably a long shot but they are making headway. I'd buy one under 25,000 but only cause I'm frugal. I'm glad the rich boys are snapping them up.

Lakewood90712

No BEV for me , I want a NEV (Nuclear Electric Vehicle)
The folks a the gov. nuke labs could make a micro version of the reactor/steam generator/steam turbine electric generator used on submarines. No wories about range or battery life. Just waiting for the cost to go down. ( I bet the some of the engineers would try it if funds were available).

mrlee770

Not knowing much about plant size needed, I did note Tesla stated this plant was for assembly purposes. Seeing as how they are going about this whole process in a brand new way (refreshing!), I can forsee different portions of the vehicle being made overseas and brought here for assembly......think computers!

Alex T

If they're not using a Ford Fusion platform (= Mazda 6 platform) what are they using?

As Tesla decided with their sports car, it makes no sense to design a new platform.

greg woulf

It made no sense at 100-500 cars and with no manufacturing experience. There are a lot of reasons to design a new platform for mass production and 10,000+ units.

With an open design they can build a frame that's strong in different places than an ICE requires giving them reduced weight and easier assembly and manufacturing.

I think the biggest reason to go with a proprietary design is that right now Tesla has nothing unique. Any car company could build a car just like the Tesla with very few compromises to performance. The motor is their design, but there are other AC motor designs that are close enough, the battery management is theirs, but once again, not hard to get around.

If Tesla wants to make it, and not just be a short term success then they need to find their niche. I think it's in the sports car arena. I think they should build the sedan to compete with the BMW's. Speculation on my part, but I think they're making the right move if they want to become a car company.

Jon Mittelhauser

They have sold over 350 of the Roadster so far. The first 100 were special edition "signature" cars. Their first half model year (e.g. 2007.5) was around 250 units. They will produce over 500 in future model years.

Keep in mind that this is a company who spent less than $40 million to get to that point. Their advance sales pretty much cover that!

Compare that to GM who spent over a BILLION dollars on the EV1 and leased only a few hundred before pulling the plug....

daCascadian

Elon Musk DOES NOT mess around w/half baked ideas/ventures (Pay-Pal was his second successful venture)

"...Tesla Motors is a privately owned company, formed in 2003 with the goal of manufacturing electric cars that exemplify the highest standards of automotive performance, efficiency and design. Chairman Elon Musk, a co-founder of the Pay-Pal online payment system and founder and CEO of SpaceX, led three rounds of venture financing that have raised $60 million. Tesla employs more than 160 people at design, engineering and manufacturing facilities in California, Michigan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom." Tesla

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." – Buckminster Fuller

DWF

From a blog entry on the Tesla web site dated 2/22/07:

What is the current count on Roadster orders????

Editor’s response: We’ve taken reservations for more than 330 Tesla Roadsters.

Henry Gibson

Humbug to the idea that batteries are not available for long distance electric cars.

Also HUMBUG to the frequent rating of electric cars on how many miles range they have.

Never in the future or the present should any full electric car be built, thought of, or advertised. The idea that you could not fill up the tank, is what kills electric cars in most peoples minds. ALWAYS there should be a small (butanol, ethanol, diesel or gasoline) engine (even just a large model airplane engine) built into them plus a full ten liter tank. If the tank is filled with ethanol or butanol it can sit there for the life of the car without being used, and it might not be; for mere convenience the engine should be able to run on standard gasoline if butanol or ethanol runs out. The engine can be a tiny very high speed one that can produce one to four kilowatts from its high speed permanent magnet alternator at the right voltage to be rectified to directly charge the battery. Power electronics can crank the engine by feeding power into the alternator. A tiny computer can run the engine at either maximum power or maximum efficiency depending on the wishes of the operator. The intent is: to never run the engine because electricity is cheaper, but it must be in the car to allow a large enough volume of cars to be sold to make the cars cheap. The tank and tiny engine-generator are like a spare tire, but should cost less to build and less to replace. APT has a delightfully tiny 13 horsepower diesel engine (OPOC). If designed and built to run at very high speeds, double or triple the power would be available from its alternator.

Almost everyone will be surprized at the speed that one horsepower can bring a standard car home; with fully dead batteries, it could do 10 to 20 kmh, and much faster if it is used to charge the batteries during work or dinner. Nobody would notice that you were down to one horse-power in a traffic jam, but while being stopped in that jam you will charge the battery enough to zoom to the next at 100 kph.

First, as some have pointed out, batteries for electric cars seem to have a solution. The portable computer is more to thank than anything besides the cell phone. We now have to work on the price, and the answer to that is mostly "mass production". The somewhat weird, because it must work at high temperatures, Zebra battery has shown for almost 20 years now the capability of an electric car to go more than 100 miles.

With the existance and proven performance of the Zebra Battery there is no question, for those who have somewhat researched the issue, that an electric automobile can go much over 100 miles on a single charge. The upfront cost of a pair of standard Zebra batteries is quite high for 120 mile range in a standard sized car, but the cost of using it is relatively low per kilowatt-hour. A possible solution is that the power companies own the batteries and sell you power including the capital cost of the batteries.

Most cars just sit parked, all day and all night, within 100 feet of utility power and many of these are in a home driveway or a garage. Besides leasing the batteries to you, the power company could use the Zebra batteries to help meet the power peaks instead of building new power plants to make up for the fact that the wind is not always blowing at the right time. At the very least, the battery could prevent a home from creating heavy demands on the utility during peak drains. A clean burning, long lived, natural gas burning Sterling engine and a couple of Zebra batteries at home and two in the car would allow not only super fast charging of the car Zebra batteries, but also waste heat for heating (and cooling) your house, hot water etc. You no longer need to be connected to the electric utility as the ZEBRAS can give all the peak power you need. The carbon emissions attributed to your household would decrease to half. (Honda makes a gas engine home heat-power unit.) You may then visit the gas station only on long trips with your high powered long trip automobile.

The high availability of natural gas in Europe and North America, cheap power electronics and modern generators with computer control plus ZEBRA batteries eliminates the need for the electric utility. The price of the Zebra batteries is almost vanishingly insignificant compared to the price of a home in California.

Nuclear cars have been possible for a long time. If some of the radioactive isotopes from used nuclear power plant fuel rods are collected and concentrated, you can have a lump of material that can give heat enough to put out several horsepower worth of heat. While some isotopes could actually be used in a car directly, it would be best to have it underground running a Stirling engine that charges your batteries. If you live in France and run an electric car you are 80% nuclear. (Canadian heavy water nuclear power plants can operate very very well on the used US PWR nuclear materials if just inserted into new fuel bundles of the right shape. Perhaps a heavy water reactor could be built to use the used fuel bundles without repackaging.)

A nuclear locomotive is actually not only possible but also practical and safe to build with modern technology. It could even have a built in reactor; not just concentrated isotopes like the wheeled Mars explorers have to keep their electronics warm. The Locmotive could look like a Beyer-Garratt with the reactor slung between two sets of driving wheels. All of the electric locomotives in France are 80% nuclear powered. (When the State of Utah in the US was producing a lot a Uranium for the US military programs, a University of Utah thesis was done on the possibility of a nuclear locomotive. Lots of money was spent to develop a nuclear rocket and airplane.)

Carlo Rubbia, former director of CERN, has proposed the Energy Amplifier reactor that can get large amounts of energy out of any used reactor fuel. Even running on new fuel, the cost of the fuel is insignificant compared to the capital cost and the operating cost, but even all capital and operating costs are less than the price of ordinary power much less peak power in California.

You may be running a 20% nuclear car in the US if you are running an electric car.

To end, something must be said about corn ethanol and it was just said, but with modern technolgy, wood pellets or grains of corn can be used to run a plug-in-serial-hybrid automobiles. Just start out on your way, and the computer controlled corn processing mechanism starts up when the battery begins to get low. It converts the corn into hydrogen and carbon-monoxide by partially burning it in air and partially recycled exhaust. The gas is cleaned of ash and mixed with additional air in the engine, and the power from the engine-generator recharges the batteries. A bushel of corn weighs 56 pounds and has about 6000 BTU per pound or 336000 BTU per bushel. The corn costs about $3.00 a bushel. Gasoline has about 120000 BTU per gallon and sells for about $3.00 per gallon. Per BTU, corn is a lot cheaper. This process saves all of the extra processing steps and losses of converting it into ethanol and uses no other energy sources to do the conversion into motor fuel. A very small computer can control the small system that is needed to do this conversion, and with very little effort, it can be made to process wood pellets and pelleted biomass including cornstalks. There would be no need for celulostic ethanol plants. Of course the engine could also run on gasoline with ordinary fuel injectors under the control of the computer, and the catalytic converter can be designed to operate with all the fuels. Such a system puts far less carbon and fossil carbon into the air than does ethanol and its production. While the FAA would not approve such a system for powering small aircraft, it would give additional flavor and meaning to the nearly lost art of barnstorming.

Such a corn burning engine system could be installed at home for charging the batteries of an electric car as well as using the waste heat for Heating/Cooling of the house etc., and the energy utilization would triple. Methane can be fermented, quickly and easily from ground up corn but the cornstocks are a bit more reluctant. The methane can be burnt in an engine for charging batteries and utilizing waste heat for a near triple gain as well or could be compressed to use as Compressed natural gas fuel. Is methane produced from corn a clean fuel. Is it nearly as clean as hydrogen.

Tripling the use of heat can be done by burning gasoline at home to charge batteries and capture heat; instead of on the road, but at home, natural gas is frequently available and could be used instead. And this comment will end with that loop back.

Jay

Electric cars are FINALLY feasable!! Tesla has the right idea of keeping the design simple and the operating parameters always in mind. It will likely be that over time every household will have at least one hybrid or totally electric vehicle.

There is no reason to think backup power sources are needed in an electric car - anymore than carrying an extra gallon of gasoline today. Fools ignore gauges of all types and pay the price.

Congrats to the Tesla's, Wrightspeeds and E-box folks.
I wait with checkbook in hand!
Jay

Aironeous

What about Electrovoya cuz they got some kick arse batteries?

Hey and what about Zinc Matrix Power cuz they are all safe, light, easy to recycle & up there in the lithium ion range of performance?

And what about that new company that will be making aluminum batteries called europositron?

And what about millenium cell that makes those little "borax and a catalyst" instant hydrogen from water units. They already got contracts with the military and their coming out with a little unit for laptops that you just put water in to make power which will essentially make it unlimited run time except for when you need to pull out the borax and send it in for recycling.

And what about AEC cleanwatts.com ?

And what about all of the various new energy technologies that you guys didn't even consider that are coming into or are already into large production?

Examples
Vertical axis windmills (there about 8 companies with good designs)
Wave and tidal power (there is around 10 companies coming out with products)
Deep ocean water tapping (there is one company)
I can go on and on with all the new stuff that is coming out. You guys are all 2 dimensional.

Alex

Go Tesla!
"Look at the mono-fuel mess that we made with oil. Energy diversity is the key to your great, great, grandchildrens' past."

Skip

Tesla:

I think you got the right idea mixed with the right product. The cars are sharp cutting edge, where we
all should be at. Protecting the enviroment from excess pollution streaming into the air we all breath.
Helping to keep air clean what a car. Sounds right to
me.

deathridesahorse

The least we can do is let every person hear the name, "Tesla", as they must be granted the free advertising as payment for doing such a humanitarian act.

Go TESLA!!!

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