Tesla CEO Elon Musk was in France earlier this year. During a special event for Tesla owners at the automaker’s French headquarters in Chambourcy, Musk reiterated that in the near future Tesla will need to establish some manufacturing capacity in Europe. But this time, he nonchalantly brought up the possibility to build its first European electric car factory in Alsace, a northeastern French region on the Rhine River plain bordering Germany and Switzerland.
The comment wasn’t really serious and Musk only brought it up as a potentially good option geographically speaking, but the comment certainly didn’t fall on deaf ears. Today, French Energy Minister Ségolène Royal said that she already suggested a site to Elon Musk and she will meet with “Tesla executives” later this month.
Royal, an influential politician and former presidential candidate, suggested building a Tesla factory at the Fessenheim nuclear plant, which is about to start its shutdown process. She admitted that the complexity to transform the site could be a problem (decontamination can take years), but it didn’t stop her from suggesting it directly to CEO Elon Musk – via LCP.fr:
“I told him – I have a place for you – Fessenheim. He [Musk] didn’t say “no”. Who dares, wins. […] It would be wonderful since we are already announcing the closing of Fessenheim and we build something else. We turn the page and look to the future. And electric cars are the industry of the future.”
The French government announced that it will start the process of shutting down the plant by the end of the year. Royal is under pressure to find an alternative to create jobs in the region.
While it’s far from being a done deal, the people of Alsace are excited at the possibility of Tesla coming to their corner of the world, and even created a video to promote the idea:
Tesla already has a factory in Europe – in Tilburg – but only for final assembly processes. In the past, Musk often talked about establishing more manufacturing capacity in other regions, especially Europe and Asia. Tesla is reportedly considering a factory location in Suzhou, China.