Tesla charges up Austin gigafactory with $58 million buildout

Elon Musk’s auto manufacturer plans work on massive plant in Texas

Tesla's Elon Musk with 13101 Tesla Rd
Tesla's Elon Musk with 13101 Tesla Rd (Getty, Tesla Giga)

Tesla’s new gigafactory is ready to roll.

The electric vehicle firm co-founded by billionaire Elon Musk filed plans to finish out the interior of its manufacturing facility near Austin. Tesla plans to spend $58 million on the job at its sprawling plant, which the company will use to build its Model Y and Cybertruck vehicles.

The buildout will cover just 175,000 square feet, according to the plans, while the factory as a whole spans over 10 million square feet — big enough to fit 194 billion hamsters by Musk’s calculations. Work is slated to begin next week and run through mid-March.

Musk first broached the possibility of opening a factory in Texas with a Feb. 2020 Twitter poll before he owned the social media site. Earlier this month, it was reported that Tom Zhu, who heads Tesla’s Asia Pacific operations, will run the Austin gigafactory.

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The firm also operates large factories in Buffalo, New York and Sparks, Nevada, as well as Berlin and Shanghai. Tesla may also open a gigafactory in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, just across the border with Texas.

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The road to opening a factory in Texas hasn’t been a completely smooth ride for Tesla. According to one complaint 1 filed by the Workers Defense Project on behalf of a carpenter identified only as “Victor,” site managers at the Austin gigafactory have been providing workers with fake OSHA training certificates. The group also alleges that people building the Gigafactory have either gone unpaid or underpaid for their time.

Victor told the Guardian he and his team were told to work on the factory’s roof at night without lights, among other unsafe directives. The most recent complaint in OSHA records was marked “closed” in December.