Friday, April 12, 2024

Tesla has yet to obtain any permits for Nuevo León gigafactory

Tesla has not yet obtained any of the permits it needs to build and operate its proposed electric vehicle (EV) gigafactory in Nuevo León, according to Forbes México.

The multi-billion-dollar project, announced by CEO Elon Musk in March, is expected to take 36 months to build, according to a Tesla document seen by Forbes, meaning that the earliest it could be finished – if the company obtains the required permits in the final months of this year – is late 2026.

Land in Nuevo León where Tesla factory will be built
The land where Tesla will build its gigafactory in Nuevo León. (Cuartoscuro)

Forbes reported Monday that Tesla Manufacturing Mexico, a subsidiary of the Austin-based EV company, has so far only applied for permission to change the land use classification of the site on which the gigafactory is slated to be built in Santa Catarina, a municipality just west of Monterrey that borders Coahuila.

Tesla has asked the federal Environment Ministry (Semarnat) to allow industrial activity on a 260-hectare site that is currently classified as forested land. The company has not yet received a response.

According to the confidential document seen by Forbes – specifically the application to Semarnat to change the land use designation – Tesla will seek authorization for the construction and operation phases of the project after it has been given the green light to use the site for the production of EVs.

In the document, Tesla says it will carry out “activities” to prevent, mitigate and compensate for “environmental impacts” on the site. It notes that the Santa Catarina site is not within a natural protected area (ANP), and asserts that the change of the land use classification to industrial won’t have a negative impact on nearby ANPs.

Elon Musk and Samuel García
Tesla CEO Elon Musk with Nuevo León Governor Samuel García after the investment announcement. (Samuel García/X)

In its application to Semarnat, Tesla also notes that it plans to build an EV plant on the site as well as “associated infrastructure” such as roads, a parking lot and warehouses.

When he announced the new gigafactory in March, Musk didn’t offer specific details about the project, but Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Martha Delgado said at the time that Tesla would invest more than US $5 billion in the plant and employ up to 6,000 people.

Once the factory starts operations, Tesla will manufacture about 1 million EVs per year in Mexico for domestic and international markets, Delgado said.

An unnamed Reuters source with knowledge of Tesla’s plans said that total spending could reach $10 billion, a figure that was also cited by Santa Catarina Mayor Jesús Nava.

AMLO with Tesla representatives
President López Obrador in a meeting with government officials and executives from Tesla in March. (Andrés Manuel López Obrador/X)

President López Obrador, who suggested Mexico’s southeast was a better location for a Tesla plant given the abundance of water there, said in March that the company had agreed to “a series of commitments to address the problem of water scarcity” in Nuevo León, including the use of recycled water at its factory.

Nuevo León Governor Samuel García, who is determined to capitalize on companies’ growing interest in nearshoring to Mexico, has lauded Tesla’s decision to set up near Monterrey.

“The richest man on earth trusted Nuevo León, Mexico, for his new gigafactory and his next generation vehicle. The future is bright,” García said in a social media post shortly after Tesla’s announcement in March.

The governor said earlier this year that the gigafactory –  a manufacturing facility name popularized by Tesla – could be built in just nine months, a prediction that now appears to have been wildly optimistic.

With reports from Forbes México 

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