Tesla Picks Texas for New Plant Site, Files Lawsuit Against Rivian
It’s been a busy news week for Tesla—even compared to the company’s normal chaotic pace.
Shortly after releasing its second quarter financial results—highlighted by the company’s fourth straight quarterly profit and record vehicle deliveries—the company announced the location of its new factory.
Then it filed a lawsuit against budding electric truck rival Rivian Automotive.
About the Plant
Located on a 2,100-acre site near Austin, Tex., the plant will build everything from Tesla’s current Model 3 and Y electric vehicles to the upcoming Cybertruck and electric Semi. When asked how many vehicles the facility will produce, CEO Elon Musk merely said “a lot.”
Production is expected to start late next year. The facility primarily will serve customers in the eastern half of the U.S., while Tesla’s current plant in Fremont, Calif., will focus on the western side. International customers will be served by Tesla’s new plant in Shanghai and a fourth facility being built in Germany.
Tesla is investing $1.1 billion in the Texas complex. It will employ 5,000 people and include public spaces, such a boardwalk along the Colorado River, and biking and hiking trails.
But it’s not exactly altruistic. For its efforts, Tesla will receive more than $60 million in tax breaks from the federal government and a local school district over the next 10 years, according to the Associated Press.
The lawsuit against Rivian alleges the Plymouth, Mich., based startup of poaching employees and stealing trade secrets.
In what it describes as an “alarming pattern,” the EV leader says Rivian has hired 178 of its former employees—about 40% of whom reportedly joined the startup directly from Tesla. Four of the ex-Tesla workers are accused of providing their new employer with “highly sensitive” proprietary information and at least two more are suspected of doing so, according to the lawsuit.
In the new filing, which was brought before the California Superior Court in San Jose, Tesla calls itself Rivian’s “number-one target from which to acquire information.”
Rivian denies the charges, asserting the lawsuit is baseless and the claims against it are “counter to Rivian’s culture, ethos and corporate policies.” All new employees are required to confirm “that they have not, and will not, introduce former employers’ intellectual property into Rivian systems,” the company asserts.
The 11-year-old startup, which says it admires Tesla for its “leadership in resetting expectations of what an electric car can be,” aims to launch its own electric trucks (the R1T pickup and R1S SUV) next year. The company has raised $6 billion—including $2.5 billion earlier this month—from investors such as Amazon, Ford, Cox Automotive and T. Rowe Price.
It also is said to be considering moving its headquarters from Michigan to Silicon Valley. This would put it less than a fast-charge away from Tesla.
The historic plant has built—and is building—a lot of cars in its 70-year run of commercial vehicle production. Today, with the e-Golf and the GTE, it is making what are arguably the most-advanced Volkswagens out there.
Hyundai enters the American market with a new parallel hybrid system that uses lithium-polymer batteries and the same six-speed automatic found in non-hybrid versions of the 2011 Sonata.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.