FREMONT (CBS / AP) — Tesla has picked Austin, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, as finalists for its new U.S. assembly plant, a person briefed on the matter said Friday.
The person says officials with the Bay Area-based electric car company visited Tulsa in the past week and were shown two sites.READ MORE: COVID: Omicron Variant Found In San Francisco, Are New Travel Rules Looming?
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 center 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 U.S. vehicle assembly factory is in Fremont, California, which employs 10,000 workers. The company has a second U.S. 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.
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.READ MORE: A's, Giants Players Locked Out As MLB Owners Vote To Trigger First Work Stoppage Since 1995
On the company’s earnings conference call in April, Musk said the site of the company’s third U.S. factory could be announced within a month. Musk calls his plants “Gigafactories.”
Earlier this week, Musk threatened to move manufacturing and Tesla’s headquarters out of California in a fight with health officials over whether the Fremont plant could reopen after being closed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Musk defied an order to stay closed and the plant was running for two days before the Alameda County Public Health Department announced a settlement. The department said the plant could run above minimum basic operations this week and start producing vehicles this coming Monday, as long as it delivered on promised safety precautions for workers.
On Thursday, Fremont Police confirmed to KPIX 5 that the plant was not running at full capacity.
“We had full access of the facility,” police said in an email. “This was conducted by the same employees who visited back in March. We aren’t releasing any of our findings, but we are providing the information to the Public Heath Officer, as asked of us. We did note that they are definitely not back to full operations, as is being reported by numerous media outlets.”
It would be difficult for Musk to move out of Fremont, though, because Tesla would have to take its only U.S. assembly plant offline for months while it moved heavy equipment to another location. It also would be hard to move the headquarters in Silicon Valley to another state because software engineers and other technical workers likely wouldn’t want to relocate and could find work elsewhere in the area.MORE NEWS: New COVID Variant 'Omicron' Identified In San Francisco; Here's What You Need To Know
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