Tesla welcomed throngs of electric car lovers to Texas on April 7 for a huge party dubbed a “cyber rodeo” to inaugurate a manufacturing plant the size of 100 football fields.
As many as 15,000 people were expected to attend the private event hosted by Tesla mogul Elon Musk to mark the opening of the new factory in Travis County that also serves as the company’s new home following its move from California.
Bulldozers were still at work near the so-called “gigafactory,” which signs indicated was constructed with more steel than New York City’s famed Empire State Building.
“It’s the equivalent to three Pentagons,” Tesla’s colorful but controversial founder and chief executive Elon Musk proudly told a cheering crowd inside the factory.
“This is the most advanced car factory the Earth has ever seen; raw materials in one side, cars out the other side.”
Musk drove on stage in the first production model Tesla ever built and stepped out dressed in black complete with a cowboy hat and sunglasses.
He said ramping up production of existing models was going to be Tesla’s priority this year.
The move to a U.S. state known for conservative Republican politics is seen by some as Musk stepping away from the liberal Silicon Valley culture in which he made his fortune.
The South African-born serial entrepreneur is now ranked the world’s richest man. He founded Tesla in Silicon Valley in 2003, but shifted its headquarters to Texas late last year.
Musk has clashed with California regulators, particularly when health precautions mandated at the height of the pandemic closed Tesla’s Fremont plant.
Musk told the crowd that Tesla was continuing to expand in California, but was running out of room there.
“We needed a place where we could be really big, and there is no place like Texas,” Musk said.
Musk has said the plant, which would employ up to 10,000 workers, would build its Cybertruck,Semi, Model 3 and Model Y sport utility vehicles. Last month, he also opened another “Gigafactory” on the outskirts of Berlin to produce the Model Y SUV.