Elon Musk’s secret UK visit sparks Tesla factory rumours
Tesla boss Elon Musk made a covert trip to the UK last weekend – flying in on his private jet and staying for two days.
Government officials are reportedly looking for a ‘major new car plant’ location, and Musk’s visit has fuelled rumours he might be involved.
Regional authorities in Teesside and the West Midlands were reportedly given just 48 hours to prepare bids for a 250-hectare site, with the company bidding being kept secret.
One insider told The Telegraph: ‘We usually get much more time and engagement with the potential investor.’
Further speculation arose from the fact the bid was run by the Office for Investment, which focuses on smoothing discussions between foreign investors and public UK bodies after Brexit.
Though Musk’s trip to his German Tesla gigafactory was public, it was only through flight tracking records that Musk’s two-day stop in Luton Airport was found.
Neither the UK Government nor Tesla have confirmed whether Musk’s trip was for a possible factory location.
It’s not the first time Musk has visited the UK – he touched down in Luton in June last year, fuelling similar rumours about a potential Tesla factory at the time.
Musk was previously considering the UK as a location for one of his Tesla gigafactories two years ago, but chose to build it in Berlin instead after citing ‘Brexit uncertainty’ as a factor.
But British Government officials are reportedly keen to attract foreign investors, while Musk is known for favouring public-private partnerships in the US. He received significant subsidies from the US Government for work with his aerospace company SpaceX.
Tesla hired a new head of UK public policy and business development last month, Natasha Mahmoudian, who has experience in the electric car industry.
This sparked industry rumours that Tesla could be looking for a more involved role in the UK.
Britain’s car industry currently makes up around an eighth of the country’s goods exports and is worth £80 billion – an investment from the world’s most valuable electric car maker would be a boon to the industry’s 180,000 British workers.
The construction of one of Musk’s gigafactories, ‘the most advanced high-volume electric vehicle production plant in the world,’ would be a particular boost.
Though construction on Tesla’s Berlin gigafactory is currently delayed, Tesla will eventually invest around £4 billion in the site which would create 10,000 jobs to produce an estimated 500,000 cars a year, according to German media reports.