Preparations ahead of the grand opening of the Tesla factory on April 6, 2022 in Austin, Texas (AFP/SUZANNE CORDEIRO)
Thousands of invitations, a boss adored by his fans and an extraordinary backdrop: Thursday’s inauguration of the new Tesla plant in Austin looks like a star concert, in the now-established tradition of Elon Musk, the whimsical billionaire who witnessed the extraordinary growth of his company. company and its Texas facility, far from California culture.
The automaker’s founder and boss tweeted several photos of the preparations, including a psychedelic pentagonal tunnel and Teslas on a stage framed by neon lights. He will deliver a speech around 9:00 PM (02:00 GMT).
For several days, fans of the brand of high-end electric vehicles have been tweeting him to claim tickets to the event, which can accommodate up to 15,000 people.
“I found the golden ticket!” On Wednesday, Luke Metzger, president of an environmental NGO in Texas, tweeted referring to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
“Thanks Elon Musk!” he added, along with a screenshot of his invite to “CyberRodeo – Giga Texas – 1 Tesla Road, Austin, Texas”.
The new Tesla plant 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.
“Big celebration for the opening of Tesla’s new $1.1 billion home, spread over 74 acres. Free interactive tours. Free barbecue. Open bar,” sums up the WhenWhereWhatAustin Instagram account on Tuesday. Events in the Texas capital.
– “Identity Crisis” –
“It’s a great day for Texas,” said Courtlan Ross, an Austin-born real estate investor who is looking forward to rising real estate prices thanks to the influx of tech companies in his state.
The opening of the factory is a “good thing”, says Davis Galassini, a young analyst. “I’m quite a fan of Elon Musk. And I think he’s going to create a lot of jobs.”
The Model Y electric car on the production line at the Tesla gigafactory, on March 22, 2022 in Berlin (POOL / Patrick Pleul)
However, other residents are concerned about the influx of Californian start-ups. “It’s very recent. Austin used to be a small county town, but now it’s different, it’s gotten huge,” said David Delarosa, a 28-year-old stay-at-home dad.
Like Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which left for 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 abortion law — and for its tax incentives: there are no taxes on businesses, nor on income.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Tesla took advantage of tax exemptions worth more than $60 million to build its megafactory, which would 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 customers were,” said independent analyst Rob Enderle.
– “Problem of the Rich” –
Elon Musk attends the start of the production line at Tesla’s “Gigafactory”, on March 22, 2022 in Grünheide, south of Berlin (POOL / Patrick Pleul)
But the South African entrepreneur, who has become the richest man in the world, struggles with California and Silicon Valley, where he founded Tesla in 2003.
In February, the state Democrat filed a lawsuit against the Fremont factory for racial discrimination. The site is also known for failed unionization efforts.
And in May 2020, at the start of the pandemic, when authorities refused to reopen the same factory immediately due to health measures, Elon Musk challenged them to come and ‘stop’ it.
The county of Hidalgo, in southern Texas, seized the opportunity by offering to set up operations on its territory. But it’s Travis’s, in the suburbs of attractive – and democratic – Austin, that won the favors of the very gracious businessman.
“Giga Texas”, the area of which is equal to a hundred football fields, has been in use since the end of 2021.
It is Tesla’s fifth “megafactory”, after those in Nevada, New York, Shanghai and Berlin – the first European facility to open with much fanfare in March.
“Tesla has a rich man problem: Demand is outpacing 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 Securities analyst Dan Ives. “The solution lies mainly in Austin and Berlin.”
In the first quarter alone, and despite the shortage of electronic chips, Tesla delivered 67% more vehicles than the same period in 2021, when Toyota and General Motors saw their sales fall by more than 20% in volume.