Published: August 5, 2014
Tesla Motors, Palo Alto, California
By John Voelcker, special from Green Car Reports
It wasn't so long ago--not quite four years, actually--that Tesla's new headquarters and office complex in the foothills of Palo Alto, California, seemed a big and audacious gamble.
My, how times change.
With its factory in nearby Fremont cranking out several hundred Model S electric cars a week, and preparations underway to add the Model X crossover and boost production to as much as 2,000 cars a week within 18 months, the company is running out of room.
According to Silicon Valley Business Journal, the electric-car maker--hardly a startup these days--is looking for 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of office space in the pricey and congested lower Peninsula market.
Part of the motivation, according to reports, is that the company would like to have employees closer to its Fremont factory, which is 20 miles from the headquarters site just above Stanford University.
In heavy Silicon Valley traffic, that journey can take an hour or more. Employees lucky enough to drive one of Tesla's own cars (or any other battery-electric vehicle), of course, get access to the region's carpool lanes even with only a single occupant in the car.
The report suggested that Tesla isn't looking to relocate its headquarters, but simply to expand its space.
Left open is why the company doesn't simply adapt one of the several empty factory buildings in its sprawling Fremont complex.
Even reserving space for the planned 2017 production start of its Model III volume car, the company is likely to have at least some uncommitted space on the site--though perhaps its need to move into office-ready space outweighs the cost savings of using space it already owns that would have to be converted (and perhaps permitted for a new use).
With Tesla now California's largest automotive employer, even before Toyota's U.S. operations complete their move from Orange County to suburban Dallas, it seems likely that landlords will compete and the state and municipalities will look favorably on its expansion goals.
Meanwhile, the company continues to assess potential sites in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas for one or more gigafactory locations.
That plan would see it build, in partnership with its longtime cell supplier Panasonic, the world's largest lithium-ion cell and battery pack plant to cut per-kilowatt-hour costs on electric-car batteries to the levels required to build its Model III volume car.
It all has to come together soon--and office space is a new piece in the puzzle.
[hat tip: Brian Henderson]