In an interview, Tesla’s Elon Musk did not quite name a winner, or even a few finalists for the company's proposed battery "gigafactory," but he did announce that he would pick two sites for construction as the company hedges its bets and emphasizes speed.
Musk was quoted by Bloomberg as saying in an interview: “What we’re going to do is move forward with more than one state, at least two, all the way to breaking ground, just in case there’s last-minute issues. The No. 1 thing is we want to minimize the risk timing for the gigafactory to get up and running.”
The plant, which comes with a proposed cost of $5 billion and the possibility to employ as many as 6,500 people, could be located in one of four states: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or Texas. The company has not said when they would be willing to announce the two top-runners. Musk also did not explain what would happen to the “losing” site after the company has already broke ground and decided to finish the plant elsewhere.
Either way, Musk doesn’t seem worried. “We will end up spending more money than would otherwise be the case to minimize the timing risk,” he said, also emphasizing that the company may need more than one battery factory within the U.S. Perhaps the company would keep the secondary site available for further expansion in the future.
What Musk did make clear was why California was not an option: “California has a lot of regulatory agencies, and although this will be a very green factory, we can’t have a situation where an enormous amount of data has to be processed by a regulatory agency to find no significant impact and then give us approval to proceed.”
The company plans on rolling out a Model X electric sport-utility vehicle in 2015, followed by a sedan that would sell for about the same price as a BMW 3-Series — essentially, half the base price of a $71,000 Model S.
Stay tuned for the company’s first-quarter results coming on May 7, when there is a good chance it will announce the two finalist sites for the gigafactory.