US auto industry, Tesla, economy

Tesla Officially Opens Texas Gigafactory

Tesla opened its Gigafactory in Austin, Texas on Thursday, a crucial step in the company’s belated plans to start production of the electric Cybertruck. To celebrate the opening, Tesla held an event, billed as “Cyber ​​Rodeo,” which invited 15,000 people to listen to live music, dine and pay homage to Elon Musk and his company.

“We’re really entering a new phase in the future of Tesla,” Musk told the audience. Wearing a black cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses, Musk said he’s excited to finally start working on the Cybertruck. “I can’t wait to see this kid in production, it’s going to be epic.”

Alongside a new version of the Cybertruck, Musk also showed off a new Roadster, which is set to begin production next year. He also teased Robotaxy who said it would look “completely futuristic” but did not provide any details or provide any details.

It is the company’s fourth plant in the United States, after the automobile plant in Fremont, California, the battery plant in Sparks, Nevada, and the solar plant in Buffalo, New York. Tesla also has an automobile plant outside of Shanghai, China, and recently opened its first European plant near Berlin, Germany. Tesla spent an estimated $5 million to purchase the land outside Austin, plus another $1.1 billion to build the plant.

“We need a place where we can be really old, and there is no place like Texas,” Musk said. “We’re going to go to a really massive scale.”

The feat was achieved less than two years after Musk announced that Austin would be the site of the company’s next Gigafactory and less than one year after Tesla officially moved its headquarters to Texas from California. In addition to the new Gigafactory, Musk also operates a SpaceX facility in Brownsville, Texas, and is said to have lived in a friend’s multi-million dollar home along Lake Austin. (Musk denied this report, claiming that he currently resides in a “little house” in Boca Chica.)

The addition of the new Gigafactory is expected to boost Tesla’s capacity in the US, which has long been constrained by limited space. In 2018, the famous company set up a tent outside its factory in Fremont, California, to help meet production goals for the Model 3. At the time, Musk said the company’s California plant was “exploding at the seams.” Tesla said it expects to produce 1.5 million cars in 2022, after producing just under a million cars last year – an increase of 50 percent.

The Texas plant is expected to be the site where, starting in 2023, Tesla will manufacture the much-anticipated Cybertruck. Evidence that Cybertruck would be delayed first surfaced last year, when the online reservation page was changed and later pulled from the site. Musk said he expects to deliver a few trucks to customers by the end of 2021, but that no freight has ever been delivered. The Cybertruck has already gone through a few changes since its initial unveiling in 2019 — including the addition of a bulky single wiper wiper, traditional folding mirrors, and invisible door handles.

In addition to the Cybertruck, Tesla also plans to build its East Coast Model Ys and Model 3s, as well as the much-anticipated Tesla Semi. The company actually began building a Model Y crossover at the uncompleted Texas Gigafactory in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the company’s latest earnings report.

A Tesla Cybertruck on display at the Cyber ​​Rodeo.
Photo by Susan Cordero/AFP via Getty Images

The Texas Gigafactory is located on about 2,100 acres of land east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, with about two miles of exposure to the Colorado River in Texas. The company said it will employ up to 5,000 workers at an average salary of $47,147, with entry-level jobs starting at $35,000. Today, Tesla employs about 10,000 people at its only US automobile plant in Fremont.

In return, the Texas local government has provided millions of dollars in corporate tax credits and incentives. In 2020, the local school district voted to approve $50 million in tax breaks for Tesla, while Travis County commissioners approved a deal worth at least $14.7 million, according to Reuters.

But the welcome wasn’t entirely without conflict. Last week, local environmentalists sought to ban the Tesla Cyber ​​Rodeo celebration, citing traffic congestion, construction dust and water pollution, according to the Bloomberg. The company has also faced criticism from environmental groups for its Berlin factory project.

More broadly, Tesla has faced criticism over its labor practices and workplace safety concerns, mostly focused on its Fremont plant. The company is being sued by the California Civil Rights Agency for operating what it describes as a “racially separated workplace.” Last year, a judge awarded a former black Tesla employee $137 million in damages after he reported a hostile work environment in which he heard “everyday racist nicknames” including the n-word and was told to “go back to Africa” ​​by colleagues.

Tesla began exploring the US for a place to build a new plant in early 2020. “Explore Cybertruck Gigafactory locations. It will be the middle of the US,” Musk tweeted. March 10. Nashville, Tennessee, was an early candidate, before Austin and Tulsa eventually emerged as finalists. Officials in (and residents) of Tulsa made a lot of flashy moves, like painting a 70-foot-tall statue of an oil rig to look like musk.

The new facility opened as the company continues to struggle with the shutdown of its Shanghai factory as the city deals with strict lockdown measures caused by an increase in COVID-19 cases. Despite this, the company reported strong sales in the first quarter of 2022, with 310,048 vehicles reaching customers.

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