Inauguration of the new Tesla megafactory in Texas, adopted state of Elon Musk – 04/08/2022 at 01:10

Preparations on the eve of the grand opening of the Tesla factory on April 6, 2022 in Austin, Texas (AFP/SUZANNE CORDEIRO)

Invitations by the thousands, a boss adored by his fans and an extraordinary setting: the opening of the new Tesla factory in Austin on Thursday looks like a star concert, in the well-established tradition of Elon Musk, the whimsical billionaire who celebrates the extraordinary growth of his company and his establishment in Texas, far from the Californian culture.

The automaker’s founder and boss tweeted several photos of the preparations, including a psychedelic pentagon-shaped tunnel and Teslas on a stage framed in neon lights. He will deliver a speech around 9:00 p.m. (02:00 GMT).

For several days, fans of the high-end electric vehicle brand have been tweeting him to claim tickets for the event, which is expected to hold up to 15,000 people.

“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 “Cyber ​​Rodeo – Giga Texas – 1 Tesla Road, Austin, Texas.”

The new Tesla factory in Austin, on the eve of its inauguration, on April 6, 2022 in Texas (AFP/SUZANNE CORDEIRO)

The new Tesla factory in Austin, on the eve of its inauguration, on April 6, 2022 in Texas (AFP/SUZANNE CORDEIRO)

The company, very secretive, communicates little, but the information circulates through the back door.

“Grand party for Tesla’s new $1.1 billion home opening spanning 74 acres. Free interactive tours. Free BBQ. Open bar,” Instagram account WhenWhereWhatAustin, listing events in the capital of Austin, posted Tuesday. Texas.

– “Identity crisis” –

“It’s a great day for Texas,” said Courtlan Ross, an Austin native and real estate investor who expects property prices to rise, thanks to an influx of tech companies into his state. .

The opening of the factory is “a good thing”, also believes Davis Galassini, a young analyst. “I’m a big fan of Elon Musk. And I think he’s going to bring a lot of jobs.”

The Model Y electric car on the production line at the Tesla gigafactory in Berlin on March 22, 2022 (POOL / Patrick Pleul)

The Model Y electric car on the production line at the Tesla gigafactory in Berlin on March 22, 2022 (POOL / Patrick Pleul)

Other residents, however, are concerned about the influx of California startups. “It’s very recent. Austin used to be a small provincial town, but now it’s different, it’s become huge,” says David Delarosa, a 28-year-old homemaker.

Like Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise moving to Texas in 2020, Elon Musk moved Tesla’s headquarters to Austin in late 2021.

This state is known for its conservative policies – it recently made headlines for passing a particularly restrictive law on abortion – and for its tax incentives: there are no taxes on corporations, nor on 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.

– ‘Problem of the rich’ –

Elon Musk attends the start of the production line of the

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)

But the South African businessman, who has become the world’s richest man, has problems with California and Silicon Valley, where he founded Tesla in 2003.

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 pandemic, when the authorities refused to immediately reopen this same factory for sanitary reasons, Elon Musk challenged them to come and “stop” him.

Hidalgo County, in South Texas, took the opportunity and offered to come and establish their activities in their territory. But it is Travis’s, in the suburbs of attractive – and democratic – Austin, that has won the favor of the much-courted businessman.

“Giga Texas”, whose area is equivalent to a hundred football fields, has been in operation since the end of 2021.

It is Tesla’s fifth “megafactory”, after those in Nevada, New York, Shanghai and Berlin, its first European site, which opened with much fanfare in March.

“Tesla has a rich man 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 Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. Securities. “The solution is mainly in Austin and Berlin.”

In the first quarter alone, and despite the shortage of electronic chips, Tesla delivered 67% more vehicles than in the same period of 2021, when Toyota and General Motors saw their sales fall by more than 20% in volume.

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