From Fremont, California to Shanghai, China, Tesla is establishing a production chain that is poised to grow together with the electric vehicle movement. But with CEO Elon Musk’s announcement that Tesla was scoping out locations for a new Cybertruck Gigafactory central United States, Tesla is now seemingly getting ready to enter the Heartland of the country. That’s a place where the internal combustion engine still reigns supreme, and where Teslas are still stereotyped as vehicles that are not for the mainstream.
A Gigafactory in the center of the United States serves several purposes. Logistically, an electric vehicle facility in the area would cut down on vehicle delivery times, especially for the East Coast. It would also allow for a complete focus on the Cybertruck until Model Y production also begins at the plant. But apart from these efficiencies, Tesla’s upcoming facility also has the potential to break the final stereotypes around Tesla’s vehicles once and for all.
In a way, Tesla’s presence in the middle of America establishes the company’s footing in a section of the country that has been an evident battleground for the electric carmaker. Central United States is widely perceived as an area where Silicon Valley-style solutions such as Teslas are not effective, as places where farming, agriculture, and other hard-nosed industries do not seem compatible with the sleek, streamlined electric vehicles from the company. A big part of this is the impression that Tesla’s vehicles are only for those with money, and not for the working man.
Scouting locations for Cybertruck Gigafactory. Will be central USA.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 11, 2020
Interestingly enough, the same people who would benefit the most from a vehicle like the Cybertruck are also stereotyped as a demographic that is far from being able to “afford a Tesla.” While Tesla prices have dropped over the past few years thanks to increased battery production and manufacturing efficiencies, there is still a pervading idea that the company’s electric cars are still out of reach for most car buyers. This is, of course, untrue, with the Model 3, Model Y, and Cybertruck priced aggressively.
It has been speculated that Tesla’s new Cybertruck will need a separate production facility to keep up with demand for the vehicle. The polarizing design of the all-electric pickup with its unmistakeable stainless steel exoskeleton has already amassed an unconfirmed half-a-million reservations. Elon Musk has mentioned in the Q4 2019 earnings call that the Cybertruck is seeing a lot of demand as well.
With Tesla producing the Cybertruck in the heart of the United States, legacy automakers may find themselves surprised once more that a disruptive company has taken hold of their longtime demographic. It could, for one, end up accelerating the efforts of legacy automakers such as Ford and GM with regards to their respective electric vehicle programs. Ford will likely not give up its most loyal customers freely to the Cybertruck, after all, and the best way the veteran carmaker could rival Tesla’s pickup would be to release the Ford F-150 Electric.
There are relatively no tell-tale signs of where the Cyber Gigafactory will be built, though rumors of Nashville being a potential site are abounding. Still, one thing remains certain: the impact of a Tesla production plant in the heart of America would break through the long-lived stereotypes that innovation is confined only in places like California. It would prove that with vehicles like the Cybertruck, the electric transition is reaching all corners of the country.