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Home » Billionaire Elon Musk Would ‘strongly Consider’ North East For Next Tesla Gigafactory

Billionaire Elon Musk Would ‘strongly Consider’ North East For Next Tesla Gigafactory

Billionaire Elon Musk said he would “strongly consider” building his next Tesla gigafactory in the North East after being put on the spot by a regional property entrepreneur.

Tesla founder Mr Musk – the second richest man on the planet with a $180bn fortune – took part in a Wall Street Journal CEO Council event in London this week to reveal his thoughts on AI, Twitter and SpaceX. When questions were taken from the floor, Ian Baggett, founder of Newcastle based Adderstone Group, pointed out the North East’s prowess in the manufacture and export of vehicles and asked: “Would you let me build you a Tesla factory in the North East of England?”

Mr Musk replied that his car company was not looking for locations at this precise time, but that he would be looking later this year. He said: “I will strongly consider England for a future location of a gigafactory. We are not currently looking at new locations but we will probably towards the end of this year.”

While admitting the question was a tongue in cheek request, Mr Baggett says it was widely recognised that the region would make an ideal base for electric vehicles companies, and that he has since been contacted by a raft of professionals keen to at least make a bid for it to become a reality.

He said: “Elon Musk spent more than an hour talking to us via video link and it was brilliant, he’s certainly someone worth listening to. At the end of the session I thought I’m going to take this opportunity to bring this back down to earth, it’s a cliche but no one had mentioned Tesla, nor is there any chace of getting a Tesla plant in the UK. As soon as the compere asked for questions I actually stood up – lots of people put their hands up but I stood up. I thought my son would love it if I got to ask Elon Musk a question.

“I didn’t want to pitch or sell Adderstone so I didn’t introduce myself. It is a tongue in cheek question, but if there’s half a chance of pulling something off then don’t write me off – I’ve done some crazy stuff in my life and it’s all started from the mantra ‘shy bairns get nowt’.

“And who knows, maybe we’ve got a seed here? What I’ve got in mind is an offshore wind farm – Dogger Bank Windfarm – which could easily power a Tesla plant. We’ve got Saudi investment here and they apparently get on well with Elon Musk.

“We’ve got the LEP, and I’ve already been in touch with Mark Thompson who can scour the North East for sites – of which we have hundreds of post industrial sites that could potentially host a factory like this. We’ve got a track record with Nissan, and the story of Hitachi coming here is not dissimilar because I’m told a businessman pitched to the company to come here, plus we have a great workforce hungry for work.

Property developer Ian Baggett (Image: tark archive) “I’ve had loads of people who have volunteered on LinkedIn to do some work, so who knows? Adderstone is a £200m asset company, we’ve got our own balance sheet, and I spend most of my time in London now talking to people with multibillion-pound funds, but none of it is their own money and none of them have built a business from nothing and none of them are rooted in a region like the North East, where generally speaking you can win the support of the business community.

“It did start off as a mad idea but the more I’m thinking about it, the more I think: ‘Why not?’ My ambition and confidence is more considered than it was when I was in my twenties but it’s very much there, so why not?”

He added: “I want to go to Texas and pitch to him with a syndicate of designers, professionals, energy specialists, representatives from the public sector in the North East and we’ll give it a go. If he likes it great, but if he doesn’t at least we’ve given it a go.”

The calls for a Tesla factory in the region falls at a pivotal time for motor manufacturing across the UK, coming after automotive industry leaders warned that time is running out for the future of UK car manufacturing unless urgent action is taken. Former Nissan executive Jeff Pratt, who now leads the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, said: “We need to do something to turn investors heads to the UK, because, frankly speaking, they’re not looking at the UK at the moment.”

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