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Electric Car Production to Be in N.M.

Source:  Copyright 2007, Associated Press
Date:  February 20, 2007
Byline:  Deborah Baker
Original URL: Status DEAD

Electric cars could begin rolling off an Albuquerque assembly line in 2009 - and they'll look nothing like golf carts.

New Mexico's biggest city will be home to an automobile assembly facility for Tesla Motors' all-electric, four-door, five-passenger sedan that will sell for at least $50,000.

"I really believe the future is electric vehicles. I think we will look back upon gasoline-powered cars ... as a temporary aberration," company chairman Elon Musk said Monday during a news conference.

Musk was a co-founder of the PayPal online payment system and is founder and chief executive officer of Space X, which develops and manufactures space launch vehicles.

The $35 million facility on Albuquerque's west side will mean 400 new jobs, Gov. Bill Richardson said.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who attended the event, said there's a mandate from the American people to reduce the addiction to foreign oil and deal with the problem of global warming.

"We're going to be a major participant in seeing electric cars become the cars of the future," Bingaman said.

Tesla Motors Inc., founded in 2003 and based in San Carlos, Calif., has more than 160 employees at design, engineering and manufacturing facilities in California, Michigan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Its first vehicle, a two-seat sports car, will begin production this year at a facility in England.

The company plans to produce at least 10,000 cars a year at the Albuquerque plant, with the first cars slated to be ready in the fall of 2009. They would be able to travel 250 miles before being recharged, officials said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in April on the 150,000-square-foot plant.

"This really fits us like a glove," said Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, noting that the city is also home to Eclipse Aviation, an innovator in personal jet transportation.

Tesla will get incentives from the state that include the high-wage job tax credit, the manufacturer's investment tax credit and help from the Job Training Incentive Program, Richardson said.

The governor also has committed $3.5 million in capital projects funding during this legislative session and another $3.5 million next year. The money would go to Bernalillo County for building and infrastructure investment related to the plant.

Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have agreed to help with development of infrastructure to the site.

And Richardson said state agencies will investigate the purchase of 100 of Tesla's Albuquerque-produced vehicles over two years for the state fleet.

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