Tesla: Battery factory construction remains on schedule

Dana Hull
Bloomberg News

Tesla Motors Inc. said construction of a massive battery factory in Nevada remains on schedule, following a report in a local newspaper that the effort has been delayed.

“The project is progressing and the gigafactory is still on schedule,” Alexis Georgeson, a spokeswoman for the electric-car company, said Friday in an e-mailed statement. The company said last month that equipment would be installed this year and that battery-pack production would begin in 2016.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union had posted on a jobs board that the construction project had been cut back 80 percent, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. The need for electricians is subject to change, the union said on its site.

The plant, which may cost as much as $5 billion, is designed to more than double the world’s supply of lithium-ion batteries, driving down costs and making electric cars more affordable. Battery packs made there will be used initially in the Model S sedan and the coming Model X sport utility vehicle, and later for the more-affordable Model 3 and for stationary-storage applications.

Tesla is hiring dozens of employees for the electricity-storage business, which it projects “will be a multi-billion dollar per year one in the near term,” according to a job description.

The factory is projected to employ 6,500 people — Nevada residents and veterans will get priority in hiring — and pay an average of $25 an hour. The 5-million-square-foot project is expected to employ 3,000 workers at peak construction and is being built in phases.

Separately, the Chinese newspaper Economic Observer reported on its website that Tesla cut about 180 jobs or 30 percent of its staff in China, citing a company executive it didn’t identify.

Shares in the Palo Alto, California-based electric-car maker fell 3.4 percent to $193.88 at the close Friday in New York. Tesla has declined 13 percent so far this year after gaining 48 percent in 2014.