While onstage at Tesla's annual shareholder event, CEO Elon Musk hinted that the automaker would choose the location for a new gigafactory by the end of the year. Musk jokingly asked his fans where the company should build, and when a few yelled out "Canada!" Musk replied, "I'm half Canadian. Maybe I should."
It seemed like a throwaway comment at the time, but a July lobbyist registration from Tesla reveals the company might actually have its eyes set on the U.S.'s neighbor to the north.
Tesla recently added an amendment to its registration with Ontario's Office of the Integrity Commissioner that sets forth the automaker's plans to engage with the Ontario government to identify opportunities for "industrial and/or advanced manufacturing facility." To sweeten the deal, Tesla's lobbyists propose such a facility could "increase the competitiveness of Ontario and its ability to attract capital investment."
Tesla did not immediately respond to TechCrunch's requests for comment.
Ontario may not need much of a push to welcome a Tesla gigafactory into its lands. The region already has a thriving automotive ecosystem that plays off its neighbor Detroit. Ford and General Motors already have existing plants there. In fact, in April, the Canadian government invested about $415 million into GM's two new plants in Ontario, including one that will produce electric vehicles.
"By making Ontario a competitive business environment, including reducing the cost of doing business by $7 billion annually, we have attracted nearly $16 billion in electric vehicle investments in the last 20 months," Vic Fedeli, minister of Ontario's economic development, job creation and trade, said in a statement shared with TechCrunch. "We are building an end-to-end supply chain right here in Ontario, and expect to continue to see more companies from around the world looking to our province as a place to invest and grow."
Musk said during the shareholder meeting last week that Tesla could ultimately have 10 to 12 gigafactories globally. Even though Tesla has opened gigafactories in Berlin and Shanghai, the U.S. still makes up for the vast majority of Tesla vehicle sales globally, so it makes sense the company might choose another North American location for its next factory -- especially considering the headaches the Shanghai factory has endured, what with consistent lockdowns and factory line updates causing vehicle sales in China to fall.
It's possible that Tesla is rushing to find locations to build batteries and vehicles closer to home after the Inflation Reduction Act was approved on Sunday by the U.S. Senate. The $430 billion bill could restrict automakers from using Chinese-made materials and require them to use North American-sourced battery components if they want to be eligible for consumer tax credits for EV purchases.