NUMMI will not be the last big auto maker in California. The federal government is helping to make sure of that.
Last month, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein announced she helped secure a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy to help Tesla build two new factories. One plant would manufacture electric vehicle battery packs, power trains, and related doo-dads in San Jose. The facility is likely to employ some NUMMI refugees – if they’re still unemployed when it opens.
Tesla has yet to announce where it plans to build the Model S, a four-door, all-electric sedan the company plans to put into production in 2012, at the earliest. There are at least two sites believed to be on the shortlist: one in Downey, one in Long Beach. Both cities have been trying to come up with deal sweeteners to win over the coy car maker from San Carlos.
Even if Tesla delivers one fifth of the number of jobs as NUMMI, the electric auto maker will be the only major auto maker in California. This is the start of a beautiful friendship from the standpoint of politicians desperate for job generators. And even though Tesla is planning to go public soon, creating all kinds of market pressures on the company's CEO, Elon Musk is obligated to stick around. At least in the near term.