Way back in April, the hype over which state would get Tesla Motors' Gigafactory battery plant reached its zenith. But an official announcement was never made, and since then it's been more or less radio silence. Now, some new clues lead Tesla-watchers to think that a site near Reno, Nevada will be the home of the Gigafactory.
It may also be a gigantic pizza factory. (Yes, pizza is made in factories. You have no idea where your food really comes from. I try not to think about it too much.)
Several southwestern states were in contention for Tesla's 100 to 200 acre plant, a project expected to create some 6,500 jobs and build the next generation of batteries for their cars and for other automakers and industries.
A few months back we said that Nevada was the most likely contender for the Gigafactory, thanks to a Goldilocks combination of renewable power, nearby rail, proximity to Tesla's California headquarters and a generally Tesla-friendly atmosphere where their direct sales remain unchallenged by lawmakers or court actions. And in March, Tesla was said to be looking into permits and zoning for prospective sites in the Reno-Tahoe area.
Now things may be shaping up that way, according to Greentech Media. They featured photos from a source who trekked up the desert ridges in Storey County to uncover 50 earthmovers at work at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center at 2641 Portofino Drive. They have several photos of the fledgling project on their site.
According to a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal from in early June, an excavation permit to begin site work for "a sizable project" was requested by the center, but those involved in the project are under a non-disclosure agreement preventing them from discussing what it might be.
It's mysterious even to the industrial center people, the newspaper said, quoting principal Lance Gilman. Gilman said he has been working with Tesla "for months" but had no signed transaction with them.
Gilman said he is under a non-disclosure agreement not to discuss the project at 2641 Portofino Drive. Such non-disclosure agreements are standard for companies who want to keep their expansion plans secret. Gilman says he signs them routinely.
"We worked with Walmart for a year and a half before they told us who they were," Gilman said.
One commenter on Tesla's official forums claimed the site is for a pizza factory, and that claim was repeated on another blog. It's not clear where that information comes from, and it doesn't appear to be substantiated anywhere else at the moment. Given the anonymity of the project at this point, it may be very hard to tell what's really going on there.
Could this be the site of the Gigafactory? It's a definite possibility, given the fact that we know Tesla is sweet on Nevada — and specifically this area of Nevada — for their battery plant. And a lot of earth is being moved at that site. We probably won't know for sure for months, but this could well be it.
We've reached out to Tesla for comment and will update this post when they get back to us.
Update: A Tesla spokeswoman declined to comment.
Hat tip to Colin!