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Tesla selects Nevada for $5 billion battery factory

The "gigafactory" will create an estimated 6,500 jobs.


PHOTO: Tesla Motors

PHOTO: Tesla Motors

RENO, Nev. — Tesla Motors has chosen Nevada as the site for a massive, $5 billion factory that will pump out batteries for a new generation of electric cars, a person familiar with the company’s plans said.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made, said work would soon resume at an industrial park outside Reno.

Four other states – California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico – were vying for the project and the estimated 6,500 jobs it will bring.

Tesla has done site-preparation work at the Reno Tahoe Industrial Center but had not publicly committed to building in Nevada, instead waiting as other states put together their best packages of economic incentives.

This spring, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company would take the extremely unusual step of spending millions to prepare sites in two states – or perhaps even three – before choosing the finalist.

The person familiar with Tesla’s plans told The Associated Press that a second site would still be prepared, in case Nevada is unable to deliver the incentives it has promised – or possibly to build a second factory.

Tesla needs what it calls the “gigafactory” to make cheaper batteries for its Model 3, a mass-market electric car the company hopes to sell by 2017 for around $35,000.

Currently, Tesla offers only the Model S sedan, which starts at $70,000. Tesla will pay about half of the factory’s cost; the other major investor is Panasonic, which will manufacture the lithium-ion battery cells and invest in equipment.

Lance Gilman, principal and director of the Reno Tahoe Industrial Center 15 miles east of Reno, said he had not been told of the decision.

“It would be the most exciting news of the century to me,” he said.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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