San Antonio Skipped Over for Tesla Battery Plant

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A charging Tesla Model S. Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors.

A charging Tesla Model S. Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors.

Tesla, billionaire Elon Musk's luxury electric vehicle manufacturing enterprise, has ended the multi-state competition for a $5 billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 people and decided to concentrate its manufacturing in Reno – ruling out San Antonio.

Tesla is expected to make the formal announcement at a Thursday press conference in Carson City with Musk and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval sharing the stage.

San Antonio Economic Development Foundation President and CEO Mario Hernandez said he was notified Wednesday by Tesla officials of the decision.

"They didn't really say why they chose Reno or why they didn't choose San Antonio," Hernandez said. "I think it's safe to say they made the choice to locate the new operations as closely as possible to their vehicle manufacturing facility. They have to figure out ways to bring down their costs."

Hernandez and other officials felt confident with San Antonio's bid. What the city lacked in geographic proximity it made up for with other assets, notably the availability of inexpensive energy, a choice of 1,000-plus acre sites in Bexar County outside the city limits, and a growing supply of skilled auto manufacturing workers in a city with a more affordable and attractive lifestyle.

"Whatever Reno offers, the city won't be able to match what CPS Energy put in the table," said one local official. "But Reno is just across the state line, in their comfort zone."

Reno's proximity to the Fremont, Calif. Tesla manufacturing plant may prove to be the deciding factor as the advanced batteries produced by the facility are expected to power Tesla's next generation of electric cars and supply batteries for other carmakers and utilities.

The "Gigafactory" is expected to play a critical role in Musk's plan to make a more affordable, mass-market Tesla car. By producing 500,000 lithium-ion batteries a year by 2020, the goal is to drive the price of the batteries down.

According to Business Insider, "he plans to build multiple Gigafactories in the future."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the press conference would held in Reno.

*Featured/top image: A charging Tesla Model S. Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors.

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14 thoughts on “San Antonio Skipped Over for Tesla Battery Plant

  1. I think it was because of Reno’ proximity to Freemont, California, a clean energy infrastructure and some space that was already being prepared in the event that Tesla chose Reno.

  2. A lesson for everyone who thinks “costs” aren’t an important factor to those who operate a business. We should all be mindful of this everytime a local governmental agency is about to act on a particular issue.

  3. Ah, well. I’m still hopeful that Elon will eventually bring his private space venture astronauts to train in the centrifuge at Brooks City Base prior to launching them out of Boca Chica.

  4. Perhaps the fact that it is illegal to sell tesla cars in texas had something to do with it? This is just Elon’s way of sending a big FU to TX for their stupid dealership protection laws.

  5. A willingness or effort to allow Elon Musk’s SolarCity solar leasing company to operate in San Antonio (as it does elsewhere in Texas ) might have been an incentive . . . including considering that less than half of a percent of all rooftops in San Antonio currently have panels, and SolarCity will be a primary benefactor of the new gigafactory.

    http://www.solarcity.com/

    With the lost opportunity, it cannot be discounted that CPS has made almost no commitment to distributed (household, small business) solar energy production – a core component of Musk’s vision and driver of gigafactory development. Or that CPS made global headlines during the site selection period for scandals related to executive pay as well as the introduction of unprecedented solar fees that further challenge distributed solar production in our city – contributing to making San Antonio the less desirable choice.

    Similarly, VIA has made almost no commitment to utilizing electric vehicles or supporting distributed solar production with current public transport offerings or future planning.

    As long as the City and its entities continue to operate and plan as if distributed solar and electric vehicles are not part of San Antonio’s future, Elon Musk is wise not to make San Antonio part of his.

  6. Let them go. You dont need someone polluting San Antonio environment with their chemicals. Beside I say Tesla is another Delorean it will fail. Why because Americans haven’t leaned a thing from the Japanese. Start small, and economical. With a vehicle that doesn’t require costly maintenance. Then gradually build yourself up. I never drove a Delorean, it’s unlikely I will drive a Tesla either, I been in Hondas, and I own a Toyota.
    I worked for a battery manufacturer in SA. Standard Industries (Relable Battery Co). While their brochure showed a modern state of the art facility. It was a hell hole with waterfalls on is leaky roof during torrential rainy days.
    Besides why not switch to organic batteries. If you can make a potato in one. Monsanto should get off their butt, and genetically modify one to pack more punch, or a beet.

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