While it's not a surprise, the good news is that Tesla Motors is now officially in business in Michigan. Their hot-off-the-wires press release (it's dated tomorrow, but says "For Immediate Release," so it's available to you after the jump) describes the new 19,240 square-foot Michigan Technical Center in Rochester Hills. This center is where work on the new all-electric sports sedan, code named WhiteStar, will take place.

John Thomas, general manager of the Michigan Technical Center and senior director of the WhiteStar program is quoted as saying that Michigan's current base of automotive companies, facilities and engineering talent helped decide that the Technical Center would be built in Michigan. "There are thousands of highly experienced automotive experts in this area," Thomas said. "We felt it was smart to use the existing test tracks, validation equipment, wind tunnels and more, rather than duplicating these costly investments."

I can't tell if it's ironic or timely or what that this announcement comes the same day the one telling us about Ford's record-breaking monetary losses. For a lot of people, Tesla represents the future of automobiles, but they're not the future of the automobile industry. They're much too small, for one thing, so coming to Michigan to siphon resources and talent is a good idea. Tesla's cars (OK, car - for now) have struck a chord with people around the world, and you know there have got to be a lot of engineers who are ready to work on these cars of tomorrow (except, these will should actually get built).

So, with Michigan's recent economic woes (drug company Pfizer cut 2,400 jobs from the state just this week), to see Tesla come into Michigan with a bang (maybe you can't call the dozen or so jobs a bang, but for PR purposes, it is) is a great thing. There is already a dedicated crowd clamoring for the Roadster. If this WhiteStar sedan is delivered as promised (long-range, all-electric five-seater coming in 2009 for around $50,000 for $30,000 CORRECTION: The $30,000 Tesla EV will be the model after the WhiteStar), the day Ford bled billions and Tesla came in might be remembered as the most important in Michigan's recent automotive history.

[Source: Tesla Motors]
TESLA MOTORS OPENS MICHIGAN TECHNICAL CENTER TO FOCUS ON COMPANY'S FUTURE PRODUCTS

Rochester Hills Office Expected to House 60 Engineers,
Serve as Hub for Research & Development for Future Products, Including a 4-Door Sports Sedan

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (Jan. 26, 2007) – Tesla Motors, manufacturers of high performance, zero emission electric vehicles, today opened its Michigan Technical Center in Rochester Hills.

The 19,240 square-foot facility, located at 1840 Enterprise Drive , will focus on research & development for future Tesla products, starting with a four-door electric sports sedan to be built by the Silicon Valley-based company. That project, named "WhiteStar," will be a four door, five-passenger, lightweight, high-performance sedan planned for production around 2009.

"This tech center will be home to the engineering, quality and supply chain staff working on WhiteStar and other Tesla cars coming down the line," said John Thomas, general manager of the Michigan Technical Center and senior director of the WhiteStar program. "With our state-of-the-art CAD and CAE design and simulation tools, this center will enable us to bring high-quality products to market quicker than traditional manufacturers."

The region's existing base of automotive companies, facilities and engineering talent, also figured into the decision to place the Technical Center in Michigan . "There are thousands of highly experienced automotive experts in this area," said Thomas. "We felt it was smart to use the existing test tracks, validation equipment, wind tunnels and more, rather than duplicating these costly investments."

"We've put together a great team at Tesla Motors," said Martin Eberhard, CEO and co-founder of Tesla Motors. "Growing Tesla Motors and creating higher-volume models requires more talented automotive engineers with experience in developing, manufacturing and assembling high-volume cars. We can hire the best, most experienced automotive talent here in Michigan ."

Since opening in July 2003, Tesla Motors has grown to a company with more than 140 employees as they prepare to launch their first electric car, the Tesla Roadster, in the fourth quarter of 2007. Over 270 customers have already reserved a Tesla Roadster in advance. Over time, Tesla Motors plans to develop a wide range of electric vehicles, all sharing the common characteristics of great styling, high performance, zero emissions and zero oil usage.

The Michigan Technical Center will be the fourth Tesla Motors facility worldwide, and the second in the U.S. , joining the company's headquarters in San Carlos , Calif. Tesla Motors also has facilities in England (assembly of the Tesla Roadster) and Taiwan (motor production).

About Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors was founded in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning to create efficient electric cars for people who love to drive. The Chairman, and largest investor in Tesla Motors, is Elon Musk.

Tesla Motors currently employs more than 140 people, including teams in California , Michigan , the U.K. and Taiwan . The company has recruited employees whose background and experience mirror the vehicles the company produces, drawing from diverse expertise in the electronics, automotive and software industries.

Tesla Motors creates vehicles that conform to all U.S. safety, environmental and durability standards. The cars include modern safety equipment such as airbags, front crumple zones, side impact protection, and 2½ mph bumpers.

For more information, visit www.teslamotors.com.


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