Elon Musk has been urged to bring a Tesla factory to the northeast of England after the electric car company revealed its ambition to build a dozen “gigafactories” around the world.
Ben Houchen, the conservative mayor of Tees Valley, wrote to Musk on Friday asking the Tesla billionaire to bring an electric car factory to the Northeast.
In a letter seen by The Telegraph, Houchen wrote: “In the UK, where we have an £82bn auto industry that leads the world in producing high-end vehicles, it would certainly make sense for Tesla to develop a serious presence, with Teesside being the best possible place to do that.”
The mayor said Teesside could offer Tesla “hundreds of acres of land ideal for development,” avoiding “the bureaucratic tangles seen elsewhere.”
Tesla suffered delays getting its car factory in Berlin up and running, and Musk lamented the bureaucracy involved in opening the German factory. The project encountered objections from unions and environmental protesters.
Houchen’s letter came after Musk said Thursday night that Tesla plans to open a dozen more electric car factories to add to its factories in California, New York, Texas, Berlin and Shanghai. He told investors the company plans to build “at least 10 or 12 gigafactories” and could announce its next location by the end of the year.
The electric car company currently plans to produce 1.5 million vehicles in 2022, but Musk wants Tesla to build up to 20 million cars a year. That would be double the figure for Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, which sold 9.6 million cars last year.
Houchen said Teesside will be able to offer Tesla access to customs incentives through the Teesside Freeport, which opened in November 2021.
A total of 21,000 new Teslas have hit the road in the UK so far this year, according to industry data. The UK has banned the sale of new petrol vehicles from 2030.
At Tesla’s shareholder meeting on Thursday, Musk asked investors to shout out where he should build his next factory. He said, “We have a lot of Canada, I’m half Canadian, maybe I should?” Musk was born in South Africa to a Canadian mother.
Musk previously told the Tesla team that he was considering other North American locations for a future factory, including Canada and Mexico.
In 2019, he said that Brexit prevented him from choosing the UK for a Tesla factory.
“Brexit made it very risky to put a gigafactory in the UK,” said the billionaire.
He also pitched the idea of bringing a factory to Russia while speaking to an audience in Moscow in 2021. However, the billionaire has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine after the invasion of Russia and has provided assistance in the form of satellite connectivity through of your Starlink business.
The plans for the Musk plant come as Arrival, an electric van startup, which has a factory in Bicester, halted work on a planned electric car and electric bus as it seeks to cut costs. Arrival shares are down nearly 80% so far this year.
In July, Tesla reported that its revenues fell for the first time in a quarter after lockdowns in China prevented car production.
Tesla shares have rallied over the last month to around $922, although they remain about 20% down from the start of the year. Tesla said on Thursday it will carry out a three-to-one split on its issued shares.
Electric car sales are booming in the UK, even as auto industry sales suffer. On Thursday, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported a 9% drop in new registrations in July, although electric vehicles increased their market share to 10%.