Tesla sizing up UK for first European base 0

tesla-sizing-up-uk-for-first-european-baseElon Musk, billionaire boss of the Tesla Corporation, has announced plans to tap British automotive expertise, by establishing a base in the UK.

His words come hot on the heels of Tesla making their first major acquisition, purchasing the German engineering business Grohmann, as it prepares to automate its production.

“We have a lot of respect for the British automotive engineering talent,” the billionaire said. “Just look at Formula 1 – it amazes me how much British talent there is in that.

“We are likely to establish a Tesla engineering group in Britain at some point in the future.”

Outlining plans for the company’s expansion into Europe, Musk said he “did not see” Brexit and the subsequent upheaval it caused as causing a “significant impact” on the firms overall goal of making electric cars affordable to more people.

“We want to change the world with a lot of electric cars for a lot of people. That is what buying Grohmann is about.”

He went on to talk about the forthcoming Model 3 – by far the more affordable Tesla yet at around £30,000 – being key to his dreams of a world powered by renewable energy. He also said however, that the company needs to find ways of becoming more efficient with regards to car production. The acquisition of Grohmann, should go some way to accomplishing this goal.

“This is about building the machine that builds the machine, which is more important than the [cars] themselves as volume increases,” the Tesla chief said.

“The only way to make a large factory to work is to have significant automation,” he added. “We will still have a large headcount but lots of automation and robotics.

“Automation is the way to make cars more affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. Economies of scale are the way to take the cost to something that people can afford to buy.”

Within the current expansion plans, the firm is looking to put roots down in Europe. At present, all vehicles are manufactured at its sole factory in Fremont, California.

“Tesla is going to make some very significant investments in Europe – and the US of course,” Mr Musk said. “There is no question of at least one, maybe two or three gigafactory locations in Europe in the future.

“Currently Europe is a market for Tesla but we think it the right thing to do is to start producing cars there as soon as we can reasonably do.”

Professor David Bailey, a motoring industry expert at Aston University, said Tesla targeting UK knowhow made sense.

“A British engineering base would make a lot of sense for Tesla,” he said. “The Midlands, for example, has what I call a ‘phoenix industry’ of cutting-edge firms working in low carbon and driverless automotive technologies, linked both to universities and the motorsport industry.

“Just as auto makers go to Silicon Valley to tap into software design, so too auto firms come to the UK for design and engineering skills and technology.”

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