Tesla will retool an existing factory, but Musk declined to say whether the plant has been previously used by the automotive industry. “It hasn't yet been finalized. We've almost fully negotiated the deal, but it has not been signed yet,” Musk said.
He added that Tesla is hiring 50 to 60 people a month, focusing on vehicle engineering and production specialists, and that it has chosen companies (or has two finalists) to supply 80 percent of the parts for the planned $49,900 Model S sedan, due to be launched in 2012.
The company’s CEO said Tesla had recruited experienced people who have worked with BMW, Land Rover and Toyota. “We're really trying to put together a world-class manufacturing team. We're trying to create a Spartan army of expertise,” Musk stated. In February, Tesla named Gilbert Passin, who was a general manager of production engineering at Toyota's recently closed plant in Fremont, Calif., to head manufacturing. Passin previously worked at Toyota's plant in Cambridge, Ontario, the only factory outside Japan to build a Lexus vehicle.
The West Coast Tesla plant will include stamping, paint shop, body and chassis, and doors manufacturing. A powertrain factory will supply both Tesla and other automakers, Musk said.