Green jobs seekers might consider a move to northern California. Tesla Motors announced Tuesday that it will open a manufacturing facility in San Jose to produce its latest all-electric automobile -- a luxury five-passenger sedan.
The plant is expected to employ more than 1,000 when it is at full production capacity. Meanwhile, General Motors publicly unveiled its Chevrolet Volt electric in Detroit, also on Tuesday.
The Tesla Model S
Tesla already produces the world's first truly powerful electric car -- the company says its Roadster gets 244 miles per charge and has a top speed of 125 mph. But the Roadster costs more than $109,000.
Now the company wants to take its technology to the masses with a Model S sedan that will reportedly retail for around $60,000. That price puts it in the BMW, Mercedes and high-end Lexus category. The sedan will reportedly have the same range and acceleration of 60 mph in six seconds versus the Roadster's 3.9 seconds.
The first San Jose-produced cars should roll off the line in 2010, according to Ze'ev Drori, Tesla's president and CEO. The company is targeting initial yearly production at 15,000, with nearly half exported overseas. The company has hinted at future Tesla SUVs, crossovers and hatchbacks built on the same chassis as the Model S.
Local governments the world over sought the Tesla facility. San Jose won with a multimillion-dollar package in cooperation with the state of California. Part of the deal includes rent-free use of a 90-acre stretch in the city for 10 years of its 40-year lease and the waiver of state taxes on more than $100 million of product.
California may have stepped up to the plate, in part, to insure the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Tesla stayed close to its roots. New Mexico was reportedly close to a deal with the company as late as June. And Tesla has attracted investments from Silicon Valley, including Jeff Skoll, president of eBay; the cofounders of Google; and Bay-area investment firms.
Telsa hasn't been without problems, however. Initial shipments of the Roadster experienced transmission problems and delayed full production. Some analysts believe the car is still far behind production schedules, and there is a waiting list of more than one year for the car despite its price. The company has also had to resolve some legal battles.
GM Unveils Volt
As part of the company's 100-year birthday celebration in Detroit on Tuesday, General Motors took the wraps off the production version of its Chevy Volt, an electric automobile that uses gas or flex fuel to help recharge its battery. Like the Tesla Model S, the Volt is expected to ship in 2010. Unlike the Model S, the Volt is targeted to cost much less -- around $30,000, according to GM.
The four-seat sedan gets only 40 miles per charge, so it must use an internal gas-powered generator to recharge its battery over longer trips. GM maintains the Volt will charge overnight for "less than the price of a latte," and that nearly 75 percent of all Americans drive less than 40 miles per day.
GM has hinted it will use the technology in the Volt to design and produce additional models across its entire line, from Chevy to Cadillac.