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March 13, 2014

Tucson Proposes to Become Home to Tesla’s 10-Million-Sq.-Ft. Lithium Battery Factory

By Balazs Szekely Associate Editor

The city of Tucson has made it public that luring electric car maker Tesla Motors’ $5 billion investment to the area is among its top priorities. Besides accentuating Tucson’s tech presence in the Southwest, the investment’s benefits would include the addition of 6,500 jobs.

Tesla seeks a location to develop a 10 million-square-foot lithium-ion battery factory on around 1,000 acres of land, Arizona Daily Star reports. The factory would supply batteries to Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant. Tesla aims for innovative manufacturing, reduction of logistics waste, optimization of co-located processes and reduced overhead. The automaker plans to directly invest $2 billion in the new facility, and the rest should come from partners.

Nevada, New Mexico and Texas also want to seize the opportunity, but Arizona has an ace up its sleeve–namely, Global Advantage. The company is is a partnership program between the University of Arizona Tech Parks and The Offshore Group, and was recently endorsed by the governors of Sonora and Arizona. Global Advantage offers research and development at the tech park with manufacturing capabilities in Sonora. The Offshore Group operates industrial parks in Sonora and already has clients who are suppliers to the car manufacturer. According to Tesla’s plans, the site will be selected this year. Construction is expected to be completed in 2015, and production is scheduled to start by 2017.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild told the Daily Star that a suitable land with access to the Union Pacific mainline and the interstates has already been identified. The city is also offering additional tax incentives to any offered by the Arizona Commerce Authority. The city management is confident that – just like other major companies such as Intel, Boeing, Apple, Raytheon and Honeywell – Tesla would feel at home in a city well known for its numerous green initiatives and solar projects.

Image of the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, courtesy of Steve Jurvetson via Wikipedia

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