Tesla to announce plans for 'gigafactory' in Nevada

A rendering of Tesla's planned gigafactory.

Photo credit: TESLA
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WASHINGTON -- Tesla Motors is expected to announce Thursday that it has selected Nevada to be the site of its "gigafactory," the large-scale lithium ion battery manufacturing plant estimated to cost up to $5 billion to build.

Tesla executives will attend a press conference hosted by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval that will involve “a major economic development announcement,” according to the governor's website. A Tesla spokesman confirmed that company executives would attend the announcement and noted that Tesla was still in talks with officials in Nevada -- one of five states jockeying to be the home for Tesla’s large-scale lithium ion battery plant.

“Out of respect for the process in the state, we are not giving out any more details on the announcement, but obviously, you can put one and one together,” Tesla spokesman Simon Sproule told Automotive News on Wednesday.

CNBC reported earlier Wednesday that Tesla had picked Nevada, quoting an unnamed official inside Gov. Sandoval’s office as saying the gigafactory was “a go, but they are still negotiating specifics of the contract.”

Emails to representatives from Sandoval’s office weren’t immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Tesla has been evaluating potential gigafactory sites in Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas -- along with state incentive packages -- in recent months.

The California Legislature this past weekend adjourned without taking up a proposed Tesla incentive package. 

In its second-quarter earnings announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company in June broke ground on a site near Reno, Nev., that “could potentially” be the location for its gigafactory. Tesla plans to run the factory with its battery supplier, Panasonic Corp.

“This is a critical step in Elon Musk’s long-term goal of creating a viable, high-volume electric car," Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com, said in a statement. "The battery pack makes up a sizable portion of any electric car’s total price, but if Tesla can reduce the cost of this component with its own factory it has a real shot at producing a $30,000 electric car with a 200-plus mile range.

"Nevada has a lot to offer as Tesla's 'gigafactory' location. The state is very business friendly, it’s relatively close to Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., and Nevada has an extremely sunny climate, supporting Musk’s desire to incorporate solar energy into the plant’s manufacturing process.”

Gabe Nelson contributed to this report.

You can reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com. -- Follow Ryan on Twitter


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