New Mexico’s second Tesla store is under construction on Santa Ana Pueblo land, tribal and company officials announced Friday.
It’s expected to open in May 2023.
Tamaya Ventures, a corporation owned by the pueblo and the business arm of the tribe, is partnering with the electric vehicle company to sell, service and deliver Teslas. The 35,000-square-foot facility under construction at 5300 Jemez Canyon Dam will occupy four acres of land near the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel and is scheduled to open in May 2023. The facility will include a supercharging station.
“This just opens the door,” Santa Ana Gov. Joey Sanchez told the Journal. “This is just planting the seed into the future.”
Eleven of the 19 pueblo governors were in attendance. Both U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rohan Patel, senior global director of public policy and business development at Tesla, attended as well.
“We open up different factories and things all over the globe,” Patel said. “… We just haven’t been as excited and inspired for a project (as the Santa Ana project).”
The announcement comes just over a year after the state’s first dealership opened on Nambé Pueblo in September 2021. Although New Mexico prohibits direct-to-consumer car sales — which is the only type of sales that Tesla makes — as sovereign nations, Nambé and Santa Ana pueblos don’t have to follow the state law.
“This is the time that we need to turn the page,” said Rich Luarkie, president and CEO of Tamaya Ventures. “We need to be true competitors and players in the state.”
The pueblo has partnered with Tesla in the past. In April 2021, Santa Ana Pueblo leased a warehouse space to Tesla to serve as its mobile repair unit.
Sanchez said Tesla approached the pueblo about expanding their partnership with the new project last year, which has been in the works ever since.
“This wasn’t an easy road to bring the Tesla project to the pueblo,” said Glenn Tenorio, chairman of the board for Tamaya Ventures. “But the fruits of our labor have become a reality.”
The move brings Tesla closer to Albuquerque residents, with the pueblo accessible in an under-30-minute drive, as compared to the more than an hour drive to Nambé. The Santa Ana Pueblo Tesla store and service center is also about five times larger than the 7,000-square-foot facility in Nambé.
“We have a responsibility to create careers, not just jobs,” Luarkie told the Journal.
Tesla will initially be training a small group of tribal members as service technicians — the first of several planned education and workforce training programs. Tenorio said, however, that the store will provide jobs to both tribal members and people from the surrounding areas.
The goal of Tamaya Ventures, Luarkie said, is to “diversify the economic base for the tribe,” and bring in more STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and manufacturing — jobs to the Santa Ana community.
Construction on the building has already started. The project comes as both the state and federal governments have recently invested in electric car infrastructure, with the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act putting $7.5 billion into nationwide charging infrastructure and a 2021 state appropriations bill infusing $10 million into installing fast-charging stations around the state.
“This is just a start — and it’s a great start,” Sanchez said.