Innovation

Musk Reads: Next Gigafactory location rumored

Gigafactory rumors light up and competition heats up from Rivian and BMW. What happens in a Cybertruck emergency?

Gigafactory rumors light up and competition heats up from Rivian and BMW. What happens in a Cybertruck emergency? It’s Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #174.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk quote of the week

“We slowed down a bit to allow Supercharger V3 production to get going, but now will speed up!”

Tesla

Is Tesla planning a factory in the United Kingdom? Property Week claimed last week that the British government is looking for 4 million square feet of industrial space for an electric vehicle research, development, and manufacturing plant, and Tesla is linked to the search. One potential location is Somerset’s 650-acre Gravity industrial park. Musk has previously spoken about plans for a Gigafactory on every continent, but when announcing Giga Berlin in November 2019, he claimed that issues around Brexit made a British factory too risky.

A “Giga UK” could help with simplifying production. The United Kingdom and Ireland are the only two countries in Europe to drive on the left. The factory would be the only Tesla facility outside of a right-hand-drive area. Tesla currently operates factories in California, New York State, and Shanghai, and alongside Berlin, it’s also planning a factory for somewhere in the central United States. In February 2020, Musk described building cars for both sides of the road as “a mega pain in the ass.”

Could that central US factory come to Tulsa, Oklahoma? The Claremore Daily Progress reported this week that the state may need to resolve its current laws that block direct-to-consumer sales. This would leave Tesla in the strange situation of making the cars in Tulsa but forcing local buyers to shop in another state.

What’s next for Tesla: Tesla is expected to host its planned Battery Day some time in the near future. Comments from Musk suggest a livestream could take place in June.

In other Musk news…

The Boring Company’s test tunnel has taken on the Tesla Cybertruck. During an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, the upcoming pickup truck moved through the 1.14-mile Hawthorne tunnel. The track was unveiled in December 2018 using a Model X fitted with guide wheels to move through autonomously. The new episode showed the firm has paved over the tunnel floor with the Cybertruck moving through without guide wheels. Read more.

Rivian, the firm set to launch two electric cars in 2021, could bring chargers to an area that’s been underserved by the Tesla Supercharger. The company’s “Rivian Adventure Network” will bring CCS charging points to areas like national parks and off-roading pit stops. Tesla owners have complained before that areas like these tend to lack superchargers. Read more.

BMW’s all-electric M5 could rival Tesla in terms of battery range. The upcoming vehicle could offer a range of 435 miles with a 130-kilowatt-hour battery pack, beating the Model S’s near–400-mile range. There’s just one problem: The M5 isn’t due to hit roads until 2024, at which point the 500-plus-mile Cybertruck and 620-mile Roadster will have likely hit roads. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

Michael Clinton writes:

In North Las Vega NV the State of Nevada put together an incentive package for Faraday Futures to build an auto assembly plant. Faraday built the pad for the factory and then withdrew. The Cybertruck will need a new assembly plant to build the stainless steel body and components. Musk should ask Nevada to give him the same deal they reached with Faraday.

Back in 2015 Nevada offered the firm $335 million in incentives only for the firm to pull out of the deal two years later. Faraday Future never did much toward building the factory, and $620,000 designated for various state agencies received those funds in lieu of the bigger payout. Of course, the main block on a Nevada Cybertruck facility is that Musk seems keen on a facility somewhere in the central United States.

Greg Knill writes:

A bulletproof Cybertruck is great, but what happens when the vehicles is washed off a low level bridge? I’ve seen it happen twice. First guy had wind-down windows and was fine. Second was a Range Rover. The electrics went, so the doors didn’t open and nor did the windows. We managed to smash the sunroof with a wheelspanner (from outside - I was in the following vehicle), otherwise it would have been tragic. If they are unsmashable? Perhaps explosive bolts?

While police departments have expressed interest in the Cybertruck for their own uses, this seems like it could be an issue. The first thing that comes to mind is that the windows may be strong, but as demonstrated in the unveiling, they’re not impervious to damage.

One approach could be similar to the Solar Roof. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection worked with Tesla back in 2018 to produce a video about how to get through the roof in an emergency. Like the Cybertruck, Tesla has touted the Solar Roof’s much stronger tiles compared to traditional roofs, but the video shows there are techniques to get inside.

We reached out to Tesla’s press team about your query but didn’t receive a response ahead of publication.

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

Video of the week

Sean Callaghan builds a makeshift solar-powered Tesla Model 3 using a $2,500 trailer. Musk has previously shied away from offering such a solution, but that could change with the upcoming Cybertruck.

Got a photo or video you’d like to see featured? Send it over to muskreads@inverse.com!

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #174, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Update 06/04 5:30 a.m. Eastern time: An earlier version of this article claimed "Giga UK" would be the first Tesla facility "outside of a right-hand-drive country." This has now been corrected to "area."

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