Tesla Considers Texas Assembly Plant, Electric Truck, More

As Tesla waits to see whether its advocacy in Texas opens the way to operate as it does in other states, Elon Musk is holding out the idea of spending vast sums and creating thousands of jobs in the state.

On Tuesday, the company’s co-founder and CEO spoke before a House committee asking for a change in franchise laws now barring the way.

If the way is made clear, he told Automotive News yesterday that following would be several more Texas stores as well as possibly a whole new assembly plant that could build, among other electric vehicles, a Tesla truck.

“When we do establish a manufacturing plant outside of California, Texas would be a leading candidate for that,” Musk said.

The company presently has two “galleries” in Houston and Austin. These Tesla outposts are holed up not unlike Texans once were in the Alamo as the Texas auto dealer association and present law circles around, preventing Tesla from talking about price or diagnosing its own cars for service.

But Musk sees Texas as potentially the second-largest market for the growing company, and stakes are high.

“If we were allowed to go direct, I think we would make Texas on par with California in terms of emphasis,” Musk said.

To start with, Musk said Tesla could sell 1,500-2,000 Model S cars there in 2014, and opening more galleries in Texas would mean “tens of millions of dollars” in spending.

That is, if Tesla is allowed to.

To make the proposition possibly sweeter for Texas, Musk said Tesla could start looking for a second assembly plant location in as few as three years from now. This could mean thousands of new jobs and new revenues for Texas.

Texas is also in consideration for a hub for Tesla’s separate business, SpaceX, and some armchair observers have suggested Musk should take his space business elsewhere if he is blocked by the auto dealer lobby in Texas.

Rather than go there, Musk must be one who knows the popular idiom that one can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

That is, when he’s not composing internal e-mails to Tesla staffers decrying “heinous” dealers and a public being “ripped off” in Texas under present law.

But disagreements and “unfortunately” leaked e-mails aside, Musk and company are asking very nicely, and hope to make it worth everyone’s time.

If they pull it off, it might not be unlike coming into the Lone Star state wearing a ten-gallon hat, spending big, and hopefully bygones will be bygones, assuming some kind of an amicable agreement can be arrived at.

Practically speaking, Texas is far closer to the center of the country than Tesla’s former NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif. on the Left Coast, and Musk said he’s a believer in locating assembly closer to demand.

While Tesla is at it, other models could be built in Texas as well, including a truck that might actually perform acceptably in a land of F-150s, Silverados, and Rams.

“I have this idea for a really advanced electric truck that has the performance of a sports car but actually more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size,” Musk said of a truck that could be built in four-five years from now. “That could be really cool, and I think that would probably make sense to do that at a new plant.”

No word on what this truck would cost, or actual details, but Tesla has Texas-sized ideas, and Musk and company are determined.