Tesla will invest $3.6B in Nevada truck factory expansion
By SCOTT SONNER – Associated Press
SPARKS, Nev. (AP) – Tesla said it intends to invest $3.6 billion to expand manufacturing capacity in Nevada and is confident of growing software-related earnings reported Wednesday for the fourth quarter of the year reflect record net income reported last year that will keep margins higher than any other automaker.
The company confirmed its plans to produce large quantities of semitrailer trucks and enough cell batteries for 2 million light commercial vehicles per year in Nevada.
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo posted a photo of himself and CEO Elon Musk to Twitter late Tuesday after the newly-elected Republican announced in his first speech to US states Monday night that Tesla was moving to a “brand new “ Electric truck manufacturing facility in northern Nevada.
The project will actually expand an existing operation at the Truckee Reno Industrial Center, approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Reno-Sparks along Interstate 80. But the plan brings the company one step closer to fulfilling previously announced plans to ramp up Tesla Semi production to 50,000 trucks in North America by 2024.
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The White House issued a statement Tuesday trumpeting the plans as Musk completed a three-hour testimony defending himself in a class action lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco over his operation of Twitter, one of three major companies that he owns, including Tesla and SpaceX.
Musk’s impulsive and sometimes inflammatory use of Twitter took center stage as proceedings continued Wednesday in the lawsuit alleging he misled Tesla shareholders with a tweet in 2018 about an aborted acquisition.
Mitch Landrieu, President Joe Biden’s chief of infrastructure, said Tuesday Tesla’s additional investment in Nevada is evidence of an ongoing “manufacturing boom” since Biden took office two years ago. He said the expansion would create 3,000 jobs in Nevada while promoting clean energy and strengthening US security.
Lombardo tweeted a photo late Tuesday of himself with Musk at Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in the industrial park east of Reno-Sparks, where batteries for electric vehicles are made.
“This is an incredible investment in our state,” wrote Lombardo.
Elizabeth Ray, the governor’s communications director, confirmed the photo’s authenticity and clarified in an email to The Associated Press that the new investment was for an “expansion of existing space” at the Truckee-Reno Center.
Tesla’s statement on its blog site late Tuesday said the company has invested $6.2 billion in Nevada since 2014 and built the 5.4 million square foot “Gigafactory.”
“We will invest over $3.6 billion more to continue expanding Gigafactory Nevada, adding 3,000 new team members and two new factories,” the company said, adding that it would include its “first high-volume semi-fab.”
Tesla delivered its first electric semi truck to a PepsiCo facility in Nevada in December, more than three years after Musk announced his company would start manufacturing the trucks.
At a November 2017 event where the Tesla Semi was unveiled, Musk said production would begin in 2019 and the trucks would be able to follow one another autonomously in a convoy. But during Tesla’s third-quarter earnings conference call in October, he said the company’s “full self-driving” system wasn’t quite ready to be driverless.
The truck has a range of 500 miles (800 kilometers) per charge when towing an 82,000-pound (37,000-kilogram) load, Musk said.
The Austin, Texas-based electric vehicle and solar panel maker announced Wednesday that it earned $3.69 billion, or an adjusted $1.19 per share, for the October-December period. That beat estimates of $1.13 that had been reduced by analysts, according to FactSet. The company’s profit was 59% higher than the same period last year.
Revenue for the quarter was $24.32 billion, below analyst expectations of $24.67 billion.
Musk said that despite price cuts of up to 20% on some vehicles announced earlier this month, demand for Tesla products is strong and sales are being constrained by production.
AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit and AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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