Tesla Could Use France’s Oldest Nuclear Reactor For Its Next Factory
Electric car maker looking for a place to set-up shop in Europeby Kirby, on
Tesla’s search for a production facility in Europe may have gotten a boost after French Energy Minister Segolene Royal offered the site of France’s oldest nuclear reactor in Fesseheim as a potential site for the electric car marker. The nuclear plant is expected to close at the end of the year, as per a pledge made by French President Francois Hollande.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has not yet commented on the potential site, but according to Royal, a meeting has been scheduled with Tesla’s management in two weeks to determine the feasibility of putting up the factory in that region. Curiously, Musk has already touted the plant’s location as a possible site in an interview back in February 2016. Musk called it “idle speculation” but he did mention putting a factory in Alsace, a region near the German border where the Fessenheim nuclear plant is currently located.
Multiple news reports point to energy minister Royal as the most vocal proponent of having the Tesla plant in France. The Fessenheim plant, she argues, is an ideal location for the American automaker because it’s going to need employment opportunities once the nuclear plant closes by the end of the year. There has been some strong opposition in the plant closure, most notably from labor unions and local politicians who are afraid of lost jobs once the plant closes. But a Tesla factory would certainly answer those fears, and if the entire proposal pushes through, France will not only become Tesla’s de facto HQ in Europe, but it will also bolster the country’s reputation as the biggest market for electric cars in Europe.
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Why it matters
I’m not going to jump into the specific details of this news because there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to why Tesla is looking at that specific region near the France-Germany border and why French Energy Minister Segolene Royal is offering the French nuclear plant as a potential factory site for the American automaker. There are mitigating reasons behind these things and the sooner we find out what those are, the better off we are at having a solid opinion on it. For now, it seems that a lot of people are looking forward to that meeting Royal talked about. Not only should it shed some light on where Tesla’s intentions are, it should also clear up the reasons behind Royal’s offer to the company.
Here’s what I do know: a Tesla factory in Europe would do wonders for the EV company as it increases the capacity for Tesla to build its models. That’s something the automaker will take a serious look at now that it’s coming to terms with the massive amount of pre-orders generated by the Model 3. Musk himself admitted that the incredible interest in the Model 3 is forcing Tesla to “reconsider its production capabilities.” Having one in Europe would address that need. To be a little specific, having it in France could also turn into a boon for Tesla. The country is regarded as one the biggest proponent of electric cars in Europe and having a Tesla plant in the country would make it easier for French customers to have access to any available EV.
These are just a few things to consider as we wait to learn more about this developing story. I’m very interested to see how this plays out because if anything, the fate of Tesla’s short- and long-term production capacity could be on the line here.
Read our full review on the Tesla Model 3 here.
Source: Automotive News