Tesla landed on a large plot of land in Santa Catarina, Mexico, in the State of Nuevo Leon, for its first Gigafactory in the country. However, the property was almost a Six Flags amusement park well before Tesla had even thought about Mexico, before it had built a Model 3, and before it was even financially stable.
In 2015, Six Flags Senior VP of International Operations John Odum met with government officials to discuss a potential theme park in Mexico.
While Six Flags has a location several hours away in Mexico City, it mulled the potential of a separate location in Nuevo Leon, and the land where Tesla will build its next factory was the most ideal location.
Six Flags wanted to build the park and needed what every large-scale project would need: water, public services, electricity, and gas.
The company was ready to spend $400 million to develop the park and create jobs. Construction was expected to take three years, according to a report from infobae.
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Negotiations had cooled down for two years until 2017 when the then mayor of Santa Catarina, Héctor Castillo Olivares, said Six Flags was still interested in the land, but the company was dealing with licensing issues, and they may have felt a new park would have been better positioned elsewhere.
The land sat vacant with no plans for development for over five years until an October 2022 helicopter flyover with Tesla CEO Elon Musk helped bring potential to the land.
Eventually, Tesla committed fully and plans to build on the property.
Interestingly, plans for Tesla could have fallen through for different reasons. Musk reportedly communicated with local authorities that Tesla would require certain amounts of water, electricity, and other things to maintain stable operations.
Meanwhile, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said if there was a water supply shortage in the area, he would not allow Tesla to gain permits for construction. “If there’s water, no. Simply put, we don’t give out permits for that,” he said. “It’s not feasible.”
However, things eventually got sorted out, and Tesla plans to build its largest factory yet on the land where a Six Flags amusement park once almost landed.
Construction is set to begin later this year, and the first vehicles could roll off the production lines as soon as early 2024.
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