Musk made those remarks in response to a question posed to him during the company’s annual shareholders meeting at a computer museum in Mountain View, Calif.
“We’re 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,” he said.
“I think it might actually be three states we do it in. I would expect that we do a down-select for gigafactory one before the end of the year.”
New Mexico remains one of five states in contention for the battery factory, which is expected to employ as many as 6,500 workers. Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Tesla’s home state of California — a late addition to the list of finalists — are the others.
Last month, Musk announced that the Palo Alto-based electric car company would break ground in June on the first of at least two possible sites for the factory, which the company says will manufacture enough batteries to equip 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020.
Tesla says pushing down the cost of batteries by 30 percent is essential to its goal to begin selling a sedan in 2017 for $35,000 – roughly half the cost of its base Tesla S model.
Musk had hinted that Tesla could break ground in more than two states, but Tuesday’s comments represented his clearest to date about the likelihood of a third groundbreaking.
Still, he did not identify where the first groundbreaking would occur, nor did he say when the company would announce that decision.
When reached Tuesday, Gary Tonjes, president of Albuquerque Economic Development, told the Journal that he was not able to comment on the “status of the project or the reports that have come out today.”
Should Tesla choose New Mexico as the site for its battery factory, officials have said it is expected to be built somewhere in the Albuquerque metro.