Production of the Model S will begin in 2012, using about 1,000 workers - a fifth of those who worked for NUMMI. “The new Tesla factory will give us plenty of room to grow,” said Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk.
Or maybe Toyota will want to use the space to produce a new all-electric car of its own...
Tesla has so far sold only about 1,000 of its electric Roadsters (pricetag: $111K, minus a few government rebates). The dealerships are in fancy locales like Menlo Park, West Los Angeles, and soon, Newport Beach. The Model S is expected to be a more moderately-priced family car. One would hope, given that Tesla has received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy to help with that. But that's old news. One wonders what other government sweeteners have yet to be revealed.
Not that this headline is ALL about money, but that's what disappointed city officials in Downey are telling themselves. Frankly, it's hard to see how a small newbie in the auto industry would not jump to after a call from a giant like Toyota.
For its part, Toyota has a lot of reasons for rekindling a relationship with Fremont. Not the least of which: the workers. Bruce Kern of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance says Toyota noticed as NUMMI workers churned out vehicles with industry-leading efficiency and quality, even as they knew the gig was coming to an end. For some of those workers, the professionalism will pay off with a return to Fremont. (Although, it's worth noting that two months ago, the facility was union. And now, it's not. At least, that's not a given...)
The California Report story today follows. Special thanks to Oanh Ha, our reporter in Palo Alto, who attended the press conference.