Preparations on the eve of the grand opening of the Tesla factory on April 6, 2022 in Austin, Texas (AFP/SUZANNE CORDEIRO)
Between the thousands of invitations and the cult that his fans dedicate to Elon Musk, the inauguration of the new Tesla factory in Austin this Thursday seems like a stellar concert, in the already established tradition of the capricious billionaire celebrating the extraordinary growth of his company and his establishment in Texas, far from the Californian culture.
For several days now, fans of the high-end electric vehicle brand have been tweeting the boss asking for tickets to the event.
It will seat 15,000 people, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
“I found the golden ticket!” Luke Metzger, president of a Texas environmental NGO, tweeted Wednesday, referring to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
“Thank you Elon Musk!” he added, along with a screenshot of his invitation to the “Cyber Rodeo – Giga Texas,” which will take place at “1 Tesla Road, Austin, Texas.”
Rumors about this inauguration circulate widely, without the company, which is very secretive, communicating directly.
“Great opening party for Tesla’s new home, which is spread over 74 acres and is worth $1.1 billion. Free interactive tours. Free barbecue. Open bar. Two stages with live music and entertainment. Other entertainment. + Sunset Speech +,” the WhenWhereWhatAustin Instagram account, which lists events in the Texas capital, said Tuesday.
– ‘Problem of the rich’ –
“Giga Texas”, whose area is equivalent to a hundred football fields, has already been in operation since the end of 2021.
The new Tesla factory in Austin, on the eve of its inauguration, on April 6, 2022 in Texas (AFP/SUZANNE CORDEIRO)
This is Tesla’s fifth “mega-factory,” after those in Nevada, New York, Shanghai and Berlin, the automaker’s first European site, which opened with much fanfare in March.
These factories produce cars, but also equipment and batteries on a large scale.
According to Jessica Caldwell, from the specialized firm Edmunds, the one in Austin will launch the Model 3 and Y, “and the Cybertruck pickup and the Semi truck will also be manufactured there”, whose production will be launched in 2023.
“Tesla has a big problem: Demand is outstripping supply to the point that Model Ys and some Model 3s are shipping 5-6 months late in some parts of the world,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “The solution is mainly in Austin and Berlin.”
The company wants to increase its shipments by an average of 50% per year, and should still “comfortably” exceed this goal in 2022, Elon Musk said during a conference call in January.
The Model Y electric car on the production line at the Tesla gigafactory in Berlin on March 22, 2022 (POOL / Patrick Pleul)
The manufacturer has delivered more than a million vehicles in the last twelve months, despite the current production limitations linked to the shortage of electronic chips.
In the first quarter alone, Tesla delivered 67% more vehicles than in the same period in 2021, when Toyota and General Motors saw their sales fall by more than 20% in volume.
– “Identity crisis” –
Thursday night also marks the personal evolution of Elon Musk. The South African businessman turned world’s richest man founded Tesla in 2003 in Silicon Valley, California, but moved his headquarters to Texas in late 2021.
Elon Musk attends the start of the production line at the Tesla “Gigafactory” on March 22, 2022 in Grünheide, south of Berlin (POOL/Patrick Pleul)
Cet Etat américain est connu pour ses politiques conservatrices –il a fait les gros titres récemment pour avoir adopted une loi particulièrement restrictive sur l’avortement– et pour ses fiscal incitations: il n’y pas d’impôts sur les sociétés ni sur income.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Tesla took advantage of tax breaks valued at more than $60 million to build its megafactory, which is supposed to eventually employ 10,000 people.
Texas is also synonymous with oil and big, polluting cars. “I think Elon Musk is having a bit of an identity crisis. He forgot who his clients were,” says independent analyst Rob Enderle.
But the boss has problems with California over various issues.
In February, the state Democrat filed a lawsuit against the Fremont plant for racial discrimination. The site is also known for failed unionization attempts.
And in May 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the authorities refused to immediately reopen this same factory due to sanitary measures, Elon Musk challenged them to come and “stop”.
Hidalgo County in South Texas jumped at the chance and offered to set up operations on its territory. But it was Travis County, a suburb of handsome, Democratic Austin, that curried favor with the much-courted businessman.