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Tesla Sets Up a New Facility in Toyota's Old Plant

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author photo by Autotrader November 2010

NUMMI stands for New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated. It’s a car-making plant in Fremont, California, not far from San Francisco. Toyota and General Motors had a joint deal building the Matrix and Pontiac Vibe compact hatchbacks there. But nothing has come out of the facility since the beginning of April 2010 and thousands of employees lost their jobs.

Soon, however, NUMMI could be at the forefront of a new wave of electric cars from Tesla.

In May 2010, Toyota bought $50 million of Tesla stock and sold NUMMI to this little Silicon Valley start-up company that, since 2003, has only built 1,200 all-electric Roadster sports cars at $109,000 apiece (before a federal tax credit of $7,500). With these extra resources, Tesla now plans to produce the Model S sedan – described by Tesla as “the first electric premium sedan designed from the ground up to take full advantage of electric vehicle architecture” – at an initial rate of 7,000 units a year. The plan is also to make an electric-powered SUV that Tesla calls the Model X.

The two companies have another joint project on the cards, an electric version of the next-generation Toyota RAV4 crossover. Nothing has been announced so far regarding where this vehicle will be built, but NUMMI should certainly have the capacity.

Tesla engineers have already set up base at the plant, preparing for full-scale production to commence in mid-2012. By all accounts, Tesla got a heck of a deal. For example, one metal press that stamps out body panels would normally cost $15 million – Tesla bought NUMMI, including all the equipment, for $42 million. The Model S will have an aluminum body, unlike the fiberglass-bodied Roadster.

The re-opening ceremony took place on Wednesday, October 27 with various local and national politicians in attendance, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk suitably bullish about the future. “I’ll be pretty happy if they say Tesla helped to accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation by five years,” he said. “Maybe as much as ten.”

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Tesla Sets Up a New Facility in Toyota's Old Plant - Autotrader