Tesla picks Austin, Tulsa as finalists for new US factory

DETROIT (AP) – Tesla has picked Austin, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, as finalists for its new US assembly plant, a person briefed on the matter said on Friday.

The person said company officials visited Tulsa in the past week and were shown two sites.

It wasn’t clear if there were any other finalists in the mix. The person, who didn’t want to be identified because the site selection process is secret, said no final decision has been made.

The new factory will be Tesla’s biggest so far. The electric car maker has said it wants the factory to be in the centre of the country and closer to East Coast markets.

The stakes are high for state and local governments, which covet auto factories because they have a lot of workers and normally pay well, generating income and property taxes.

Tesla’s current US vehicle assembly factory is in Fremont, California, which employs 10,000 workers. The company has a second US factory in Reno, where it builds batteries for its vehicles and employs about 6,500 people. It also has a factory in Shanghai and another one under construction in Germany.

Vehicles are seen at the parking lot of Tesla’s electric car plant in Fremont, California. PHOTO: AP

Companies typically use proposals from finalists to bargain for the best package of tax breaks, site investments and other incentives.

The new factory would build Tesla’s upcoming “Cybertruck” as well as be a second site to build the Model Y small SUV.

On the company’s earnings conference call in April, Musk said the site of the company’s third US factory could be announced within a month. Musk calls his plants “Gigafactories”. The respective mayors, Steve Adler of Austin and GT Bynum of Tulsa, as well as Oklahoma Govenor Kevin Stitt, all declined comment on whether their cities are finalists for the plant.

However, all reasserted their respective locales would be best suited for the plant site. Texas Governor Greg Abbott did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, Musk threatened to move manufacturing and Tesla’s headquarters out of California in a fight with San Francisco Bay Area.