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Monday, February 19, 2007

Tesla Motors to Build Assembly Plant in New Mexico - Will Produce WhiteStar All-Electric Sports Sedan

New Mexico Governor Investigating Fleet Purchase of 100 WhiteStar Sedans

[From Green Car Congress:]

Tesla Motors [makers of the Tesla Roadster all-electric sports car (pictured left)] will build its new automobile assembly facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Construction on the 150,000 square foot plant will begin in April 2007, at the latest.

The New Mexico plant will be the company’s first assembly facility in the United States, and will produce the WhiteStar, an upcoming four-door, five-passenger all-electric sports sedan.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has directed the state’s General Services Division, and other appropriate agencies, to investigate the purchase of 100 WhiteStar vehicles for the state fleet over a two year period as a demonstration of the state’s commitment to clean energy.

Governor Richardson has also invited Tesla Motors Chairman Elon Musk and Tesla Motors CEO Martin Eberhard to work with the state to develop a package of legislation for the 2008 session to encourage and incentivize the purchase of clean energy vehicles, including hybrid and electric vehicles.

"This is a major step toward making New Mexico a center for 'green' manufacturing. In my role as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I will continue crafting policies at the federal level to ensure that the electric cars like those made by Tesla&madsh;and other companies specializing in cutting-edge renewable energy technologies—will eventually be commonplace. I commend Gov. Richardson, Secretary Homans, Gary Tonjes, Clark Krause and Mayor Chavez for working hard to recruit Tesla to our state."
—US Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Several states, including Arizona and California, were in talks with Tesla Motors over locating the WhiteStar assembly plant.

The first cars will roll off the assembly line in the fall of 2009, and Tesla Motors will produce at least 10,000 cars each year. The vehicles will cost $50,000 for the standard model or $65,000 for a premium model with greater performance and range. Tesla Motors begins production of its first vehicle, a zero-emission two seat Roadster, at a facility in England owned by Lotus Cars later this year.

Tesla Corporate Headquarters will continue to be located in San Carlos, California. Tesla recently announced the opening of an R&D facility in Rochester Hills, Mich., north of Detroit, where it expects to grow to a staff of 60 focused on design and engineering for the WhiteStar.

Tesla Motors will receive several incentives from the state, including the high wage job tax credit, the manufacturer’s investment tax credit and assistance from the Job Training Incentive Program.

In addition, Governor Richardson has committed $3.5 million in capital outlay from the 2007 legislative session, and another $3.5 million in capital outlay from the 2008 legislative session. These funds will go to Bernalillo County and be used for building and infrastructure investment related to the facility.

The state’s Economic Development Department worked closely with the Albuquerque Economic Development Department and the New Mexico Economic Development Partnership to close the deal with Tesla Motors. The city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have agreed to assist with development of infrastructure to the site. First Community Bank has agreed to participate as a local lender. SunCal, which recently acquired approximately 57,000 acres on Albuquerque’s west side, pledged at no cost up to 75 acres of land abutting the initial site if the company undertakes a major expansion in the future.

Who says the electric car is dead?! While Detroit delays on releasing even a plug-in hybrid, citing insufficient battery technology, start-ups like Tesla Motors, Pheonix Motorcars and ZAP march towards the commercial release of electric-vehicles. While pricey, this new generation of EVs will hopefully prove that the electric vehicle, and it's cousin the plug-in hybrid are the viable, clean, and efficient future for transportation.

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