BY JASON CAMPBELL
Less than five years after Tesla, the popular electric car manufacturer acquired a 431,000-square-foot facility that had previously been used to distribute car parts for Chrysler to serve as a remote manufacturing facility for its mass production Model 3, the Palo Alto-based company is awaiting completion of an 870,000-square-foot building being constructed on a parcel that was previously parking for the Pilkington glass plant campus.
While the exact nature of the building and what it will be used for has not yet been disclosed by the secretive company, the ownership group that acquired the shuttered glass plant on Louise Avenue confirmed that a portion of the property had been sold to developer Buzz Oates for construction of the new building – which is currently underway.
The site is just down the street from Tesla’s existing building, which fronts Harlan Road and Interstate 5, and is located in the rear of the former glass plant building that will be the new Northern California distribution facility for Kraft Heinz.
According to Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, who remembers the media blitz that came when the city announced that Tesla had acquired their initial property, just having the closely-followed tech giant operating within the city limits is good for business and helps raise the city’s profile to attract other businesses as well.
“Within hours we were getting phone calls from major newspapers across the country that wanted to know about Tesla and they wanted to know about Lathrop,” Dhaliwal said of the initial announcement in 2014. “We’re proud that they want to do business here in Lathrop, and that’s a good thing for the city – that means additional revenue and even more jobs.
“I have friends that used to commute to Fremont to work for Tesla, and they’ve been able to transfer to Lathrop which means that they’re spending more time at home with their families – this is a very good thing for the City of Lathrop.”
And Tesla has already been making good use of available space in Lathrop, using the vacant blacktop at the shuttered glass plant to temporarily store vehicles that it manufactures at the old New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont – which was known colloquially as NUMMI – before it ships them off to customers and retail stores across the country.
According to a Business Insider article, it is believed that several thousand of the popular electric cars are sitting on the blacktop in Lathrop, and just as many in a similar location in Burbank in Southern California.
“We use Lathrop as a loading hub for cars being shipped to other locations for delivery to customers,” Business Insider reported a Tesla spokesperson stating. “As our deliveries increase, we’re obviously going to have more cars there.”
That means per capita, given the city’s population of 24,000, there are more Teslas in Lathrop than anywhere else on the planet. Fremont, where the Tesla assembly line is located, has 233,126 residents while Burbank has 105,000 residents.
And even the new building the company will soon occupy has a link to the massive facility in Fremont that the company acquired after the joint effort between Toyota and General Motors shut down.
The glass plant site of which the soon-to-be-completed building will sit on used to produce auto glass for both Toyota and GM vehicles produced at the former NUMMI plant, and its closure severely impacted production at the Lathrop facility until its closure in 2013.