Tesla officially opens the Texas Gigafactory

Tesla opened its Austin, Texas-based Gigafactory on Thursday, a key step in the company’s belated plans to begin production of its electric cybertruck. To celebrate the opening, Tesla held an event dubbed the “Cyber ​​Rodeo,” where 15,000 people were invited to hear live music, eat, and pay homage to Elon Musk and his company.

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

In addition to a new version of the Cybertruck, Musk also showed off a new Roadster that is slated to go into production next year. He also teased a robotaxi, which he said would look “pretty futuristic,” but didn’t elaborate or provide details.

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

“We need a place where we can be really big, and there’s no place like Texas,” Musk said. “We’re going to be moving on a really massive scale.”

The milestone came less than two years after Musk announced Austin would be the site of the company’s next Gigafactory, and less than a year after Tesla officially announced it moved its headquarters to Texas from California. In addition to the new Gigafactory, Musk also runs a SpaceX facility in Brownsville, Texas, and he reportedly lives in a friend’s multimillion-dollar lakeside home in Austin. (Musk denied that reportwho claims he currently resides in a “tiny 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 space constraints. In 2018, the company became famous set up a tent in front of his factory in Fremont, Californiato meet Model 3 production goals. At the time, Musk said the company’s California factory was “bursting at the seams.” Tesla has said it will make 1.5 million vehicles in 2022 after producing just under 1 million vehicles last year — a 50 percent increase.

The Texas factory is expected to be the site where, starting in 2023 Tesla will build its long-delayed Cybertruck. Evidence that the Cybertruck would be delayed first surfaced last year when the online reservation site surfaced has been changed and then later withdrawn from the site. Musk had said he expected some trucks to be delivered to customers by the end of 2021, but deliveries never happened. The Cybertruck has already gone through a number of changes since its inception first unveiling in 2019 – including the addition of a comically oversized single wiper, traditional folding mirrors and invisible door handles.

In addition to the Cybertruck, Tesla also plans to build Model Ys and Model 3s for the East Coast, as well as the long-delayed Tesla Semi. According to the company’s most recent earnings report, the company began building Model Y crossovers at the unfinished Texas Gigafactory back in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Tesla Cybertruck on display at the Cyber ​​Rodeo.
Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

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

In return, the local Texas government squandered millions of dollars worth of tax breaks and incentives on the company. 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. corresponding Reuters.

But the greeting was not entirely free of conflict. Last week, local conservationists tried to block Tesla’s cyber rodeo celebration, citing traffic congestion, construction dust and water pollution. corresponding Bloomberg. The company has also been criticized by environmental organizations for its factory project in Berlin.

More broadly, Tesla has been criticized for its labor practices and workplace safety concerns, mostly centered on its Fremont factory. The company has been sued by the California Civil Rights Administration for operating what it describes as a “racially segregated workplace.” And last year, a judge honored a black former Tesla employee $137 million in damages after reporting a hostile work environment where he heard “every day racist epithets” including the n-word and told by colleagues to “go back to Africa”.

Tesla began scouting for a site in the United States to build a new factory in early 2020. “Search for locations for the Cybertruck Gigafactory. Will be central in the US,” Musk tweeted On the 10th of March. Nashville, Tennessee, was reportedly an early candidate, before Austin and Tulsa eventually emerged as finalists. Officials in (and residents of) Tulsa create many conspicuous moves, such as painting a 70 foot tall statue of an oil driller to look like Musk.

The new facility opens as the company continues to struggle with this closures of its Shanghai factory as the city deals with strict lockdown measures caused by a surge in COVID-19 cases. Nevertheless, the company reports strong sales in the first quarter of 2022, with 310,048 vehicles reaching customers.

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