In what can only be described as a miraculous turn of events, Tesla and Toyota have worked out a deal to build the upcoming, <$50k Model S sedan at NUMMI in Fremont. Toyota’s providing the shuttered plant and $50 million of funding, Tesla will 1,000-1,200 jobs back to the plant in South Fremont.
Strategically, it’s a great move for both. Let’s look at what each company gets. Toyota gets:
- Some good PR back from the NUMMI closure
- A cheap investment on all-electric technology, which is not currently in its portfolio (Toyota has bet largely on hybrid powertrains).
- A use for the original plant that is compatible without having to pay for cleanup
- Toyota’s legitimacy in the industry
- An already built facility only minutes from the headquarters
- Access to a good, capable workforce trained the right way
- Tax breaks from the state on equipment
- Rail access, which is important for suppliers
Of course, you’re wondering how this could affect the A’s. According to Argus scribe Matt Artz, it wouldn’t affect a ballpark project much at all. Straight from CEO/Iron-Man 2 cameo Elon Musk’s mouth:
“Tesla doesn’t have any objection as long as it doesn’t impact production of vehicles, which I don’t think a ballpark would.”
Imagine that! A ballpark and a plant may be compatible after all. Wonders never cease. As stated previously, Tesla’s space requirements are far less than what’s available at NUMMI (20k cars/yr vs. 400k cars/yr under NUMMI), it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of the unused plant facility reused as warehousing for suppliers. Tesla also operates on a build-to-order model, so you won’t expect to see large numbers of cars on the massive prep lot. It’s likely that plenty of space on the north end will be available for development, whether that’s offices, retail, or a ballpark – any or all of which could work together with the plant.
Could anyone see this coming? Probably not. It seemed that Tesla was set on a factory in Downey, but this all came together extremely quickly. Whether or not anyone at Fremont City Hall can legitimately claim credit for this, the quick change happened on its watch. A green, progressive business that has the cachet that most cities would kill for? That kind of political currency heading into the next election is, well, priceless.
In my estimation, this news does nothing but make a Fremont ballpark a much more tangible option. Whether or not Wolff/Fisher have made the same conclusion is anyone’s guess.