San Jose To Be Electric Car Capital

Posted on: 19 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

San Jose is aiming to be the capital of clean car technology following a $250m (£139m) deal with electric car maker Tesla to base its new factory in California.

The battery-powered Model S sedan will be produced at a 600,000-square foot plant, built alongside a company headquarters in San Jose. The all-electric luxury sedan will have a retail price of around $60,000 (£33,000).

Tesla already manufactures a two-seater zero emission Roadster which sells for $109,000 (£61,000) and is built by Lotus in England.

Tesla’s boss Ze’ev Drori hopes to deliver its first cars by 2010. They will have a range of about 240 miles per battery charge. The production run is set for around 15,000 vehicles initially, with half of the line being sold in Europe.

“This is proof the time has come for the electric car,” says Drori.

"This car signals an end to dependency on foreign oil. The summer of high gas prices has accelerated demand for such a vehicle."

San Jose’s major Chuck Reed agrees with Drori.

“This is a big step towards being the centre of world cleantech innovation.”

"This is the next step in transportation. Shifting from petroleum to electric vehicles will make a huge change to how the world moves and we are excited to be part of that happening."

TeslaAnalysts however believe Tesla will face a tough challenge with its five-seater sedan, especially from GM's Volt, which was unveiled this week. Tesla’s electric sedan will be a tough sell alongside the Volt which will cost around $35,000 (£19,500).

Mayor Reed says that San Jose, which is said to have America's highest per-capita concentration of hybrid cars, is aggressively encouraging cleantech companies to the area.

"San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley, which offers the best opportunities because it is right here where the innovation is happening. It is important for Tesla to be close to that innovation and this is a big boost for us."

Tesla's Mr Drori said his business represents the beginning of a burgeoning growth sector.

"Cleantech is a completely new paradigm and what we are doing represents a major seismic shift. That's the reason we chose San Jose and we will lead this charge."

With plenty of electrical cars hitting the global markets in the next six months, would you consider selling your diesel or petrol motor for a hybrid vehicle?

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