Tesla announcement on battery factory ‘soon’

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elon2010Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Tesla Motors Inc. is expected to release more details about its planned giant battery factory “very soon” – possibly as early as next week – according to a letter to shareholders Wednesday.

But it’s unclear whether that announcement will include where the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company plans to build what it has dubbed the “Tesla Gigafactory,” which is envisioned to manufacture cheaper and more efficient batteries for its Model S electric vehicles.

New Mexico is one of the state’s being considered for what is expected to be a $2 billion facility that could employ as many as 2,000 workers.

“Very shortly, we will be ready to share more information about the Tesla Gigafactory,” Chairman and CEO Elon Musk wrote in a letter to shareholders detailing the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings for 2013. “This will allow us to achieve a major reduction in the cost of our battery packs and accelerate the pace of battery innovation.

“With this facility, we feel highly confident of being able to create a compelling and affordable electric car in approximately three years.”

In a conference call accompanying the release of the company’s earnings Wednesday, Musk said more information could be forthcoming next week.

Musk’s comments come on the heels of an independent equity research firm report published two weeks earlier that suggested New Mexico is the “ideal location” for Tesla’s battery facility.

Global Equities Research of Redwood Shores, Calif., said Tesla is expected to partner with Panasonic and Sanyo on a mammoth battery factory that “will likely be built in New Mexico.”

“Based on everything we know … this is probably the ideal location to set up this factory,” Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research, told the Journal last week.

On Thursday, a Tesla spokeswoman declined a Journal request to elaborate on whether the company’s upcoming statements on the battery factory would include a formal announcement on where it plans to build the facility.

“We’ll have more information soon,” she replied in an email.

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