Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not content to disrupt the American automobile market: He’s infiltrating Europe, now, too — first in Germany, where he acquired a leading engineering firm, Grohmann Engineering (now Tesla Grohmann Automation), as Tesla announced Tuesday. But, soon, he’ll infiltrate an additional, as yet undisclosed European country. That country will be home to the Gigafactory 2, and Tesla will choose the lucky nation sometime next year.
Tesla is confident in the superiority of Grohmann Engineering, which specializes in advanced automation manufacturing processes. Musk may have swooped a gem from Germany. The news coincides with Tesla’s SolarCity acquisition — another Musk company — which still depends on a shareholder vote. (The new solar roofs, though, are persuasive arguments to go ahead with the purchase.) With Grohmann Engineering, Tesla hopes to achieve its goal of producing half-a-million cars per year by 2018. The two companies had already been working together, but the incorporation, Tesla says, will make the operation even smoother.
Tesla’s been harping on about building the “machine that builds the machine” for a while, now. Gigafactory 1, in Storey County, Nevada, will produce the batteries, and the process is already quite automated. (Gigafactory 1 is taking shape quickly, as a drone video from Saturday proves.) Gigafactory 2, wherever it sprouts up in Europe, will be an all-inclusive manufacturing plant: There, whole cars will be born. And the passive voice is somewhat appropriate, as Grohmann automation will take most humans out of the process.
“Combined with our California and Michigan engineering facilities, as well as other locations to follow, we believe the result will yield exponential improvements in the speed and quality of production, while substantially reducing the capital expenditures required per vehicle,” Tesla writes. The addition of another Gigafactory will only increase the exponent — though it will, of course, cost a pretty penny.
Whichever country lands the next Tesla plant will have to court the company. In Nevada, local officials can’t stop talking about how wonderful Tesla’s been. Tesla brings many jobs, international attention, and big parties. The industries within these countries, on the other hand — and not just the automakers — may not be so thrilled.