Rumors of a Tesla Gigafactory in the United Kingdom are surging after a brief visit from CEO Elon Musk in Luton, a town in South East England. Musk made the visit on his way to Germany, where he was set to visit Tesla’s Giga Berlin production facility.
Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited Giga Berlin, but he stopped in the UK for a short time, according to his plane tracker. Musk landed at London Luton Airport on May 14th and stayed for two days before loading back up into his Gulfstream G650 and heading off to Berlin Brandenburg Airport on Sunday.
Questions surfaced about the reason for Musk’s two-day stay in the UK, and it may have something to do with a potential UK Gigafactory that could help supplement European demand for Tesla’s electric cars. According to a report from The Telegraph, regional authorities in Teesside and the West Midlands were given 48 hours to prepare a 250-hectare site. The report stated that the entities in control of the land were not informed of who or what was visiting the land or what company would potentially bid on the land that they had prepared.
The communications to the landowners, along with the rest of the process, were set up by the newly-formed Office for Investment, a government office that handles discussions between private foreign investors and the public sector.
Speculation regarding a potential Tesla Gigafactory in the UK started last year in May when a Department for International Trade (DIT) in the UK was leading a search for a plot of land that was big enough to house a large-scale electric vehicle manufacturing facility. A spokesperson for the DIT indicated that it was “working closely with partners to scope out sites for new investment into electric vehicle research, development, and manufacturing across the UK.”
According to the May 2020 report, one business park in Somerset, a county in South West England, attempted to lure Tesla to its 650-acre site, which is slightly smaller than the 740-acre Giga Berlin property, comfortably bigger than Tesla’s Fremont Factory that sits on only 370 acres. Earlier this year, Minister of State for Business Kwasi Kwarteng offered his support for the potential Tesla facility. Kwarteng said that Somerset has the “manufacturing skill and competence to be able to sustain an excellent Gigafactory.”
Neither Tesla nor its CEO Elon Musk has commented on the potential for the UK Gigafactory, nor is it confirmed that either entity is planning to purchase land for a new factory in the region.
Currently, Tesla has five Gigafactories; three of them are currently active: Gigafactory Nevada, Gigafactory Buffalo, and Gigafactory Shanghai are currently active. Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas are still under construction, and plans for a new Gigafactory in India have also circulated for the past few months.
Europe is one of the largest markets for electric vehicles, and Tesla could handle demand without issue if it had two Gigafactory facilities in the region. As electric vehicles take off in popularity, Tesla leads the charge globally and plans to expand its already impressive lineup of production facilities will only accelerate the transition to electrification.