SPARKS, Nevada (AP) — Tesla has confirmed it will invest $3.6 billion to expand its Nevada manufacturing facility to “high-volume” electric semi-truck production and produce enough batteries for 2 million light-duty vehicles a year.
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said during his Monday night speech that he plans to join Elon Musk and other Tesla officials as they unveiled plans on Tuesday to build an “all-new $3.5 billion cutting-edge manufacturing facility” for electric trucks. in Nevada.
This is actually an expansion of an existing operation, but it brings the company closer to plans it previously announced to increase Tesla Semi production to 50,000 trucks in 2024 in North America.
The White House released a statement announcing the plans on Tuesday as Musk, who owns Twitter while continuing to run Tesla, was finishing up three hours of testimony in a U.S. court in San Francisco where he defended against a class action lawsuit alleging he misled Tesla shareholders in 2018 by posting a tweet about a failed buyout.
Mitch Landrieu, President Joe Biden’s head of infrastructure, said the new investment is proof of an ongoing “manufacturing boom” since Biden took office two years ago. He said it would create 3,000 jobs in Nevada, promoting clean energy and enhancing US security.
Later Tuesday, Lombardo tweeted a picture of himself with Musk at Tesla’s Gigafactory in an industrial park east of Sparks that makes batteries for electric vehicles.
“This is an incredible investment in our state,” Lombardo tweeted.
Elizabeth Wray, the governor’s communications director, confirmed the photo’s authenticity and clarified in an email to The Associated Press late Tuesday that the new investment was to “expand existing acreage” in the Truckee Reno industrial center east of Sparks.
Tesla said in a statement on its blog that the company has invested $6.2 billion in Nevada since 2014 and built a 5.4 million square foot (501,676 square meter) “Gigafactory”.
“We will be investing more than $3.6 billion to further develop Gigafactory Nevada, adding 3,000 new team members and two new plants,” the company said in a statement. It stated that it would include “the first high-volume Semi plant”.
Tesla delivered its first electric semi-trucks to PepsiCo’s Nevada facility in December, more than three years after Musk announced his company would start making trucks.
At a November 2017 Tesla Semi launch event, Musk said production would begin in 2019 and trucks would be able to autonomously follow each other in a convoy. But during Tesla’s Q3 conference call in October, he said the company’s “Full Self Driving” system isn’t quite ready for driverless operation.
Musk said the truck has a range of 500 miles (800 kilometers) on a single charge when towing a load of 82,000 pounds (37,000 kg).
AP Auto columnist Tom Krischer contributed to this report from Detroit, Michigan.