Downey Stunned as Tesla Motors Chooses NorCal for New Plant

Downey official thought city was hours away from signing lease with Tesla

By Gil Cunha
|  Friday, May 21, 2010  |  Updated 2:46 PM PDT
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Downey city officials say Tesla Motors had promised that the company would locate a plant in Downey. But the carmaker surprised the auto world Thursday by announcing a deal to build electric cars at a recently closed auto plant in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Downey City Council approved a lease deal Nov. 25 aimed at bringing Tesla to the former Rockwell International and Boeing Co. plant.

Downey spent months courting the automaker to locate its factory there.

"Tesla has been extremely disingenuous in their dealing with Downey, and I now have new appreciation as to why America is fed up with many large corporations," said Downey councilman Mario Guerra. "This last-minute betrayal is even more shocking because (Downey) was hours away from signing the lease with Tesla that would have been an economic boon for the city."

Downey had offered to waive $6.9 million in rent in hopes that the plant could create up to 1,200 jobs and revitalize its reputation as Southern California's high-tech hub.

Toyota will invest $50 million in Tesla when the company begins selling stock to the public, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company will purchase the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory, known as NUMMI, in Fremont.

Musk said there was no effort to mislead Downey officials, adding that parts of the deal with Toyota were only resolved Wednesday.

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