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Tesla Motors really did break ground in Reno on Gigafactory

Reno has easy access to lithium and other raw materials, as well as an excellent rail link to Fremont CA.
Reno has easy access to lithium and other raw materials, as well as an excellent rail link to Fremont CA.Tesla Motors, used by permission

On Thursday, the Tesla Motors letter to shareholders contained a verification of a some of us reported on the last couple weeks. Namely, there's a site near Reno Nevada where preparations are underway for what looked like and smelled like a potential Gigafactory location. The last several months Tesla has conducted a competition between several states to select the Gigafactory location, and said they'll proceed to the ground-breaking phase on more than one site (potentially) before choosing the final site.

The shareholders letter released today admitted the site near Reno is a potential Gigafactory location. Workers broke ground on the site in June, and have since been preparing it for a massive construction project.

A week ago Reno resident, Bob Tregilus, an electric vehicle and clean energy advocate, broke news that he'd come across evidence of a construction site near Reno which looked to be the Gigafactory location. A massive site was under construction, with a crew working in secrecy on "Project Tiger" day and night, amid rumors that this was the Gigafactory site. Tregilus noted that Reno would be an excellent location, because it is close to lithium and other mineral resources, and has an excellent rail connection directly to Tesla's factory in Fremont, CA.

The next day, however, that hope was dashed when Tregilus learned work had been suspended at the site, and there was news California was now a front runner for the Gigafactory.

Today, Tesla Motors will have a conference call with financial analysts and the media, and released the letter to shareholders containing quarterly results. In that letter Tesla had this to say about the Reno location:

In June, we broke ground just outside Reno, Nevada on a site that could potentially be the location for the Gigafactory. Consistent with our strategy to identify and break ground on multiple sites, we continue to evaluate other locations in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The final site for the first Gigafactory will be determined in the next few months, once we have full visibility and agreement on the relevant incentives and processes for enabling the Gigafactory to be fully operational to meet the timing for Model 3. We see these concurrent efforts as prudent. This vehicle will be our third-generation product and will substantially broaden the addressable market for Tesla, helping to accelerate the transition towards sustainable transportation. Any potentially duplicative investments are minor compared to the revenue that could be lost if the launch of Model 3 were affected by any delays at our primary Gigafactory site.

In other words, Tesla Motors has confirmed the Reno site is a potential Gigafactory location, without confirming the final site selection.

As we noted earlier, Tesla Motors absolutely must open the Gigafactory in order to successfully launch production of the Tesla Model 3 and start selling that car in 2017. This one car will require as much lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing capacity as exists today.

UPDATE: During a conference call this afternoon, Elon Musk said work in Reno was paused while Tesla Motors is waiting for concrete actions from the Government of Nevada. In the competition for the Gigafactory location, Musk claimed they're seeking a win-win-win result in which the host state, Tesla Motors, the partner companies all win based on the incentive package offered by the host state.