Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Thursday that Toyota Motor Corp. will be teaming up with Tesla Motors to build electric cars at the former New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont.
The NUMMI plant, a joint venture between General Motors and
Toyota, closed on April 1, roughly nine months after GM announced its withdrawal from the partnership in August 2009.
The closure left 4,700 employees jobless and affected another
estimated 25,000 people working at suppliers around the state that do business with NUMMI, according to a study commissioned by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer.
Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, and Toyota's CEO, Akio Toyoda, joined the governor Thursday to announce the partnership. Musk said they have already begun hiring back a lot of NUMMI workers.
"We expect to hire many more in the future," he said, adding they are currently hiring about 50 new employees per month.
Discussions are still at an early stage of exactly what the plant
will produce, but Musk did imply that at least part of the NUMMI plant will be used to produce their new Model S, a fully electric four-door sedan that was developed with help from loans from the Department of Energy. "We're expecting production of model S to start in 2012," said Musk.
Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman said he's "very happy" that Tesla will be making electric vehicles at the NUMMI plant. "We want to lead in making our cities green and our state green and this is a big step in that direction," he said.
But Wasserman said the city is going to "continue to plan to see
what the total property will be used for," as there is unused land adjacent to the NUMMI site."
He said, "Manufacturing is fine, but we don't want to be limited
Although Tesla said its new production might create about 1,000
jobs, which is much less than the approximately 5,000 jobs at the site before, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said if Tesla is successful it could add more jobs in the future. And he said keeping the plant going will help save many jobs at suppliers who did business with NUMMI.