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Tesla eyeing Austin, Tulsa for next electric vehicle assembly plant, according to reports

Could Tesla build its new Cybertruck in Texas?

Tesla is eyeing Tulsa and Austin as finalists for its next U.S. vehicle assembly plant, according to multiple reports Friday.

Tesla executives visited Tulsa in the past week and were shown two sites, according to The Associated Press, which cited “a person briefed on the matter.” AP’s source didn’t want to be identified because the site selection process is secret.

It wasn’t clear if any other cities are in the mix. Dallas and Fort Worth elected officials actively courted Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk on social media in the past week after he threatened to move the company’s electric car production from California to either Texas or Nevada.

Before AP reported two finalist cities, electric vehicle industry blog Electrek said Musk is “set” on opening a new factory in the Austin area. It cited a “reliable source familiar with the matter,” who said Musk wants to have the plant producing the company’s Model Y small SUV by the end of the year.

Musk has reportedly asked his Nevada Gigafactory engineering team to start planning a new factory destined for Central Texas, according to Electrek. It would produce not only Tesla’s Model Y but also the company’s new Cybertruck, though Electrek reports that wouldn’t be possible until late 2021.

The Reno, Nev., factory builds batteries for Tesla vehicles and employs about 6,500 people. It also has a factory in Shanghai and another under construction in Germany.

In early March, Musk tweeted that he was scouting locations for a new Cybertruck Gigafactory in the central U.S.

Musk told The Wall Street Journal that his decision on where to set up the next Tesla assembly plant would be influenced by the state incentives provided, access to a large workforce and the cost of logistics.

Tesla has said in the past that the plant will be larger than its factory in Fremont, Calif., which employs 10,000 workers.

“My answer here is the same as when I was asked about rumors concerning Amazon, which is I never comment on this kind of question,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told the Austin American-Statesman in response to the report.

Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told News Channel 6 in Wichita Falls that he’d spoken with the billionaire CEO and that Musk was “genuinely interested in Texas” as a destination for Tesla’s operations.

Abbott called Texas “a perfect location for Tesla to come to.” Auto factories are highly coveted by state and local governments because they employ a lot of workers, pay well and generate property tax revenue.

Tesla’s decision on its next factory is unrelated to Musk’s recent spat with California public officials over the reopening of the Fremont factory, according to Electrek. Musk defied authorities and resumed production before a shutdown order lifted.

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.

Texas has been passed over for Tesla facilities in the past.

In 2014, a large vacant parcel in Hutto, 30 minutes northeast of Austin, was runner-up for the electric carmaker’s $5 billion battery manufacturing site that ended up going to Reno. Hutto’s city, school district, county and state incentives totaled nearly $800 million over 20 years.

This article was originally published by Dom DiFurio, dallasnews.com

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