ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – While the city and state were expecting a decision any day on the Tesla battery factory, the electric car company pulled another surprise move Tuesday delaying the much-hyped decision for another six months.
However, that doesn’t mean work won’t start any day now in Albuquerque on that new plant.
“We are getting quite advanced in the planning for the Gigafactory,” said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors.
Musk discussed plans for a new battery manufacturing plant at a shareholders meeting in Northern California Tuesday.
New Mexico is in the running against Arizona, Nevada, Texas and California to be the home of the $5-billion lithium battery plant.
Musk said, even though he doesn’t expect to choose the state until the end of the year, he could choose a few of them in the next month or two to start working on a site for the factory.
“We are probably going to do two or maybe three states all the way to creating a foundation and completing the plans and getting approvals and everything,” Musk said.
Tesla’s Gigafactory will make batteries that will allow the company to sell a lower-priced version of its cars starting in 2017.
It could put up to 6,500 people to work.
While sites like Albuquerque’s Mesa del Sol have been suggested, city and state officials won’t say where the factory could be.
The city’s Economic Development Department wouldn’t comment on Tuesday’s announcements and the Governor’s Office said it is under strict confidentiality agreements.
Tesla said it plans to complete the factory in 2017.
It expects to supply enough batteries for the 500,000 cars it hopes to make by 2020.
If Tesla does start laying the groundwork for a solar- and wind-powered battery plant at a site like Mesa del Sol, that could cost millions—millions that would go down the drain if Tesla doesn’t end up picking New Mexico at the end of the year.
No word yet on who would pay for that.