There are hopes that Tesla could be about to open a new factory in Britain in what would be a major boost for the UK motor industry.
The Times is today reporting that boss Elon Musk, the world’s third richest man, is growing tired of red tape at the firm’s German factory.
Last summer the billionaire flew to Luton from his California home, and he landed there again last weekend, staying for two days.
He is understood to have previously examined a potential site near Bristol.
This time, though, it coincided with regional authorities such as the West Midlands and Teesside being given just two days by the government to put together bids for a site measuring 250 hectares, although they were kept in the dark about the company involved.
Musk previously said the Brexit vote made Britain ‘too risky’ as a potential location but it now appears he could be set for a U-turn.
It wouldn’t be the first time the American tycoon has changed his mind, having this week rebuked Bitcoin after years of championing the cryptocurrency.
Despite this, some industry insiders have reacted with surprise to the news that Tesla could be about to start production in Britain.
It is currently unclear what any new plant would look like, but some have suggested the site could be a battery plant to service the existing German factory.
One industry expert said such a move would be ‘bizarre’.
He said: ‘Given the weight, cost of transportation and value of batteries, motor manufacturers want their supply chains close by.
‘If Musk is to build a battery plant in the UK to service his German car plant, that would be bizarre.’
However, industry analyst Mike Jones has told Car Dealer that he welcomed the news and was not surprised to hear of Musk’s interest in Britain.
He said: ‘My comment would be that this news is welcome but not a surprise.
‘As we look to our post Brexit future it is vital that we make batteries in the UK to increase the locally produced content.
‘It also makes sense from an environmental point of view as manufacturers seek to reduce their carbon footprint, particularly in the production of electric cars.’
With speculation rife, the directly elected mayor of Tees Valley has offered to roll out the red carpet for Elon Musk.
Ben Houchen declared that the region was ‘ready to go’ should the carmaker opt to build a plant.
The 34-year-old has told Musk that Tees Valley could take Tesla ‘to the moon’ in a new plea on social media.
In December, he wrote to Tesla, outlining why he felt the region would be the perfect spot for any new plant.
He has now told Musk: ‘If rumours are true and you’re looking for a UK site for Tesla, Tees Valley could take you to the moon.
‘The Tees Valley can still offer Tesla hundreds of acres of identified ideal developable land, with the can-do attitude in political leadership necessary to ensure delivery of major projects.
‘We can still offer a great local skills base, notably in the automotive and clean energy sectors, but also in design, computing and chemicals.
‘We can offer connectivity comparable to that enjoyed by Nissan’s Sunderland works.’