News

Tesla to move its headquarters to Palo Alto

Electric-vehicle manufacturer to occupy former Agilent building in Stanford Research Park

Tesla Motors, whose sleek, flashy roadsters have become a visible emblem of Bay Area's growing electric-car industry, is moving its headquarters to Palo Alto.

The company announced today that it plans to lease the 350,000-square-foot former Agilent Technologies Building in Stanford Research Park. The company would develop and manufacture components for its electric vehicles at the 23-acre site, located at 3500 Deer Creek Road -- midway between Page Mill and Arastradero roads above Foothill Expressway. (View press release).

The company said it plans to bring 350 employees to Palo Alto initially, following renovations to the buildings. The facility has space for up to 650 workers. The three-building facility was formerly occupied by Hewlett-Packard Co. and Agilent Technologies.

Tesla said it also plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from San Carlos to Palo Alto later this year. The announcement comes a month after Tesla posted profits for the first time in the company's history.

"Silicon Valley and the Stanford Research Park are synonymous with innovation and entrepreneurship," Tesla CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk said in a news release. "It's an ideal place for a new car company trying to rethink many aspects of the traditional automotive business."

Tesla plans to begin renovating the Stanford Research Park facility in early fall.

The financing for Tesla's new site will come, in part, from $465 million the company received in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy. The loan was part of a federal program designed to encourage manufacturing of affordable electric vehicles.

The company is in the midst of developing its Model S -- an all-electric sedan that will sell for about $50,000.

The company will be joining a research area that already houses some of the city's leading experts on electric vehicles and power generation. The Electric Power Research Institute -- a leading think-tank specializing in electricity technology -- and Better Place, a company trying to build networks of charging stations and battery-swap stations around the world, are both based in Stanford Research Park.

The company's chief technology officer, J.B. Straubel, also cited Tesla's proximity to Stanford University as a major incentive for relocating.

"Tesla is rapidly recruiting new employees, and this fabulous working environment and proximity to Stanford University will give us excellent access to top engineering talent," Straubel said in a news release.

City Manager James Keene said the city is "extremely pleased to welcome Tesla in Palo Alto" and noted that the city is committed to promoting sustainability and green technology. He hailed Tesla's move to Palo Alto as another indicator of the city's leadership position.

"Stanford, its Research Park and Palo Alto have always been at the forefront of new technological discoveries and inventions, as well as fostering practices and ideas that increase environmental sustainability," Keene said.

"Tesla's move is another indicator that Palo Alto is the place to be for the green tech and alternative energy companies that will help solve the daunting global environmental challenges of the 21st century," Keene said.

Keene told the Weekly that Stanford and Tesla officials had been in contact about space in the Research Park. He said he looks forward to the city "engaging actively" with Tesla during the renovation of the buildings.

"What better place than Palo Alto?" he asked about a site for the headquarters of a future-oriented "green technology" firm.

Related stories:

Charging ahead (Palo Alto Weekly cover story, June 19, 2009)

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Be careful what you wish for
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

Keene wants the city to be "engaging actively" with Tesla? Oh he'll definitely gets lots of that when the Palo Alto process begins. Lots and lots of active engagements will be there for Tesla.

"What better place than Palo Alto?"

Keene will definitely change this statement when Tesla undergoes the scrutiny of the Palo Alto process.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford worker
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 18, 2009 at 10:45 am

According to today's SJ Mercury News, Tesla will be moving to Palo Alto

"Tesla moving headquarters and powertrain operations to Palo Alto"

Web Link

The article says there may be up to 600 employees working there. My question is this--how much housing will Tesla be required to build in Palo Alto for it's employees.

Also what about the traffic implications? Will Tesla guarantee no new net car trips to their facility?

Shouldn't the city council weigh on this, like they are doing with Stanford? Why should Tesla be exempt from what the council is requiring Stanford to provide?


Like this comment
Posted by energyman
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2009 at 11:20 am

Oh, please, please, outsource the entire planning and inspection functions. Dont work this one to death like every other make work process that the City staff, Council and citizen crusaders have sent whimpering into history. We and the environment need this Tesla project to succeed, wildly.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 18, 2009 at 11:22 am

This move should help keep Palo Alto's real estate market alive. 600 people need somewhere convenient to live and why not close to work? Good and welcome Tesla!


Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2009 at 11:42 am

"Stanford, its Research Park and Palo Alto have always been at the forefront of new technological discoveries and inventions, ..." Keene said.

Yeah, like broad band connectivity for all residents - oh wait, that's a bad old idea, isn't it?


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm

It will be a death sentence for Tesla if Palo Alto "engages actively" with them. Tesla is taking over an old HP building(s), and it should be allowed to run as a business, with the goal of making money. If the no-new-net-trips hurdle is demanded, along with green building standards, then we can just kiss this one goodbye.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford worker
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm

the point of my post was to highlight the apparent disparity of PA officials when they are dealing with Stanford as opposed to other entities that move to the city. Could it be that the council knows that Stanford cannot move anywhere else, while businesses will just say "no thanks" to PA if they try to impose there draconian demands on them?

Let's see what our "green is our lives" city council says about this.


Like this comment
Posted by Give them a hasle free welcome
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:24 pm

That location was once Xerox, then Agilent, all their employees drove to work. The Swiss company that took over Syntex has also left town; so there is a net loss of drivers into that part of the Stanford Industrial Park.

We should welcome Tesla and their 600 employees many of whom will enter the Stanford Industrial Park via Los Altos Hills and Los Altos and won't even impact Palo Alto at all.

Tesla is a lean, mean start-up they certainly don't have money for housing. If you impose your negative thinking on them they will leave town also.


Like this comment
Posted by No new buildings, so no need for housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

This is a reuse of existing buildings that once housed a comparable number of workers, so there is no need for additional housing or impact fees of new office buildings. In contrast, Stanford is building over 1 million net new square feet of space, for which there will be significant NEW impacts.

Don't compare apples and oranges.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford worker
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 18, 2009 at 2:38 pm

As you say, they once housed workers, so the workers are not there and when Tesla moves in, the new workers will come. Since they are not working or living here now, I think it is only fair that Tesla build housing for them and also guarantee that there be no new net car trips in that area. That seems only fair to me--if you demand it of Stanford, you should demand it of other businesses in town. The fact that Stanford is replacing existing buildings,while Tesla is not is not relevant--what is relevant is that Tesla will be bringing new people to town and new traffic. After all, even one additional car trip in town is too many according to some of our city leaders (of course they did not mind the financial gain that the Senior games brought in, along with additional traffic)


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

As a sign of welcome, we should buy Teslas for all department heads, and reconfigure City Hall into a giant, functional Tesla Coil. Think of the 4th of July celebration!


Like this comment
Posted by TipAndRing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm

It's a good location for Tesla. There's plenty of back roads and I 280 to conduct road tests. Maybe they'll meet up with the 4 AM road racers on 280.


Like this comment
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Whoa - sour grapes from the Stanford worker, or what?!?


Like this comment
Posted by energyman
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Esteemed 'Stanford Worker'. We need to save our righteous wrath over new vehicle trips, demands on city services, overcrowding of schools for those slick developers who built the developments at the ends of Loma Verde and East Meadow. Like Jedi knights, they cloud the minds of our planners and city council members. They invoke the 'jobs housing imbalance' which we are not required or obligated to correct.


Like this comment
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2009 at 9:15 pm

So if I start a business and hire some employees I have to build them a house? This is the dumbest logic ever. This PC low income housing crap is exactly that, crap. We do not live in a welfare state. At least not yet.


Like this comment
Posted by Woo-hoo! Welcome!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2009 at 9:42 pm

A business needs to build housing for their employees? Palo Alto houses start at $900,000. Not all people who work in Palo Alto live in town. Duh.


Like this comment
Posted by business tax
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 18, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I see that the prospect of the new business tax is not deterring Tesla from moving to Palo Alto. So much for all the anti tax people crying wolf about the new tax.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 1:51 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Since Tesla is a subsidized operation their sensitivity to costs is lessened.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2009 at 3:52 am

Stanford worker: I thought the city council went too far on their requests of Stanford on the retail/hotel project and new hospitals as well. That being said, you need to be honest in your argument and acknowledge that that retail/hotel project was additonal sqft and headcount and that the Packard Hospital is also additional sqft and headcount too. The main hospital is a replacement but will also increase in sqft and headcount.


Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 8:06 am



Walter makes a good point.
Tesla is now supported by tax payer handouts so rather than moving to a low rent industrial park, which any sane enterprise would do with no viable product, no sales and embroiled in litigation with the founders.

Instead Tesla decides to spend our taxpayer money to move to very high rent Palo Alto.

When it has burned through our money on this terrible business decision what are they going to do, ask us to give them more handouts with no equity?


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford worker
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 19, 2009 at 8:11 am

Crescent Park Dad--One other point to remember is that it was the PA City Council that pressed Stanford to build the retail/hotel project in order to increase the tax revenue for the city.
The real point is has any business that has come to town, whether it built a new building from scratch or occupied an existing one, been asked to build housing for their employees or been asked to guarantee no new net car trips? If traffic is bad, then why are we pushing "destination Palo alto", why did we subsidize the Senior Games?


Like this comment
Posted by Low end digs
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 19, 2009 at 8:22 am

Maybe Tesla should lease the Munni plant in Fremont!!!


Like this comment
Posted by Sun and Sand
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

That's *NUMMI* plant. Easy answer, it's way to big for Tesla's current need. I'm not sure Tesla is a winner, as they're most likely considered a skunk works for potential rollup by one of the majors (Ford, GM, Fiat, etc.). No way that a small boutique car company can survive, long term - not any more. Tesla will be bought, eventually.

As for the "no new net car trips", give me a break! That said, I understand the consternation about our current approach to Stanford. The latter is way out of balance; it seems to be in PA's DNA to challenge the biggest hand that feeds it. Why? because we can, and it makes for good press. Otherwise, it's questionable policy to go down the road of costing Stanford money with interminable delays. Those delays result in increased costs for all who will eventually use Stanford facilities.

Last word on traffic: When was the last time Palo Alto led a coordinated effort to enable private enterprise intra-urban and regional transport (jitney buses, co-op taxis, etc. etc.? I can't remember this ever happening, even once. So anyone complaining - at the policy level, or otherwise - about increases in car trips, really needs to put their rhetoric in line with action. Otherwise, it's all the whining is just hot exhaust.


Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Libertarian
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I found this article incredible arrogant and silly, but what else would you expect from someone enamored with PA!

Wow, a grand move of all of what, 6 miles to attract talent? Oh, I keep forgetting that there are no engineers in San Carlos. And I almost forgot, fresh new engineering talent always start out by buying a house in PA, it is so affordable :). Is Tesla going to pay relocation expenses for people selling their homes in San Carlos, just so they can buy in PA, walking distance from the new facility? Then, why would anyone need a car like a Tesla anyway they can walk to work!

I am sure glad we are investing $465 million Taxpayer dollars in this Palo Alto corporate welfare project. What a great use of the investment dollars to move to some of the most expensive commercial real estate in the Bay Area?


Like this comment
Posted by Real Jobs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm

wow what an insult: "they're most likely considered a skunk works"
Lockheed started from scratch with real machine tools, raw metals and skilled craftsman.

The employees at Tesla are not innovators or craftsman they are assemblers bolting together parts made by others.

This company is just another in a long line of hype-green-freak tap dancers. To prove my point where is the shop where they forge armatures for the motor? Where are the 40 ton presses to form the exterior body panels? Where are the forming shops for the interior plastic parts? No No No all they have are people who push paper and pontificate on green things they know nothing about. All the while Lotus is shipping the cars here burning up tons of fossil fuel to get these so called green cars here.

Jobs not Hype


Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Woodside
on Aug 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I don't think lotus golf carts have much of a future, especially at $50,000 or whatever they go for. I'll take a porsche 911 of any year, in any condition over one of these dot com mobiles. You can smell the end of cash flow in their decision to locate to one of the most expensive places on earth.


Like this comment
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

If the Tesla handles like the old Lotus elan, Drool.

But are we making cars or just installing power plants and charging batteries? With 2010 NUMI closure, we need jobs for some of those displaced workers.


Like this comment
Posted by Real Jobs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2009 at 5:26 pm

>>> You can smell the end of cash flow in their decision to locate to one of the most expensive places on earth.

YES! I can smell it too. This has been a time proven method in the valley many times. Get the transfer, get the house, sell the back-dated options to fund your snobbish elitist lifestyle. In the past the VC folks took the hit or ducked and dumped the stock. It would appear this time it will be the tax payer sucked into the deal by the foolish politician that has never had to make a living making a real product.

I wonder if I can exchange my S&H green stamps for one of those golf cart cars at the bankruptcy auction.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Looks like some villagers are sharpening their pitchforks. Boodlers beware!


Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 19, 2009 at 9:01 pm

I don't understand many people on this thread. We should welcome Tesla here and wish them luck. This country's crack-like addiction to oil has already cause us to get into too many wars (Iraq I and Iraq II), to grovel before oil dictatorships and with these contradiction between what we say and what we do, precipitated America to lose it's standing in the world. I say no more. It is time we get off oil and the electric car is the "vehicle" to do that.

Having driven electric car on 2000 - The Corbin Sparrow - I do think once prices drop enough as will happen when volume ramps up, most people could/should get an electric car as a second car, a commuter vehicle to get you to and from work. Charge our car up off the grid and drive right by the gas station on your way to work.

An old co-worker of mine bought a Tesla, and I had a chance to ride in it. The Tesla is no golf cart. It could out run most cars on the road (if that is how you measure the worth of a car).

Myself, I'm hoping someday to own an Aptera, but they are in San Diego -- www.aptera.com


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2009 at 3:44 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Alan, The auto is not an addiction, but an integral requirement for the freedom of movement we need. Our need for foreign oil is a homegrown need, fathered by the Green, LibLudd movement's opposition to any energy development. Most of the LibLudd Greenie rationale is Malthusian in nature - hey, all you riffraff, get off my world!


Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 20, 2009 at 8:59 am

Walter, that strawman argument conveniently ignores what I actually posted. I didn't say "cars" are the problem, I said "oil" was. Keep the car. Switch the energy source. Maybe you should find a real Luddite-Malthusian to argue with somewhere else.

The best way to eliminate our need for oil is to switch to cars fueled off the electric grid where any source - nuclear power, natural gas, coal, bio-fuel or wind - could charge your car up at night. In the short-term I'd chose nuclear power plants using a fuel cycle similar to France, while pursuing renewables (bio-fuels, wind, solar) in the long-term. That's a topic for a different thread.

Since Detroit car companies aren't capable if innovating, we can only hope that California companies like Aptera and Tesla try and succeed.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Oil, no; bio-fuel yes??? Interesting.
Oil is still, with coal, one of the most convenient, inexpensive and portable concentrated energy sources available. A half century ago at the dawn of my engineering career, we were well into pollution control and its companion, efficiency improvement. Pollution control was not an invention either of Boomers or of Flower Children.
As for Detroit, I think Jeeps, pickups, SUVs the Corvair, the Model T [my first car], arguably the automatic transmission, the car radio [with Lear] and the tail fin, none developed with subsidies, are innovations.


Like this comment
Posted by Inot
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Moving to Palo Alto. Something tells me those cars are not going become affordable anytime soon. Guess I'll be stuck with my fossil fuel burner. The NUMMI suggestion was a good hearted idea. Those workers over in Fremont are really facing a scary times ahead. Many may be forced to move out of state. Tesla might want to grab some of them before they flee.


Like this comment
Posted by THETRUTH
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Why would any forward thinking company want to move to Palo Alto with all the loud mouth arrogant NIMBYS that live in this place?Rember ITS not in my "intersts" just like HSR..OO its Maberry RFD here with $90,000 dollar SUVs..


Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 22, 2009 at 9:59 am

>>Oil, no; bio-fuel yes??? Interesting.

Yes, bio-fuel. A farmer in Iowa converting switch grass into something that can be burned at the local generator, would be preferable to sending money to a country that recycles it into
Wahhabi madrases through-out the world.

>>Oil is still, with coal, one of the most convenient, inexpensive
>>and portable concentrated energy sources available.

More "portable" that electricity which can be sent through a thin copper wire, or more "convient" than being able to just plug your
car in when you get home? No.


>>A half century ago at the dawn of my engineering career,
>>we were well into pollution control and its companion,
>>efficiency improvement. Pollution control was not
>>an invention either of Boomers or of Flower Children.

I'm neither a Boomer nor a Flower Child. And the efficiency
improvements you mentioned got side-tracked somewhere around
the time of that great auto industry "innovation" called the SUV.

>>As for Detroit, I think Jeeps, pickups, SUVs the Corvair,
>>the Model T [my first car], arguably the
>>automatic transmission, the car radio [with Lear]
>>and the tail fin, none developed with subsidies,
>>are innovations.

That is setting the bar really low for what someone would call "innovation". Tail-fin ... Really? Interesting ....

My problems with oil are geo-political, and I when the history
books are written about the "Rise and Fall of the United States
of America". Oil (and our societies addiction to it) will be a huge chapter in the "fall" section of the book.

50 years ago things might have been different. 50 years ago were still getting most of our oil from within the US. But now those oil fields in Texas and Pennsylvania are depleted, while at the same time our consumption grew, what is left within the US does not support our consumption. We are addicted to oil in a very unhealthy way. We now make dictators/monarchs powerful when we fill the gas tank. Societies that don't let women drive cars, don't care for democratic values, societies that want to see us fail and will celebrate the demise of our country.

It seems like once a decade our addiction cause some type of shock to the system. In the 40+ years I've been around I've lived through two Oil embargos (early and late 70s) and two (or three depending how you count) Oil wars. This country is just like a drug addict in denial when it comes to oil. Even when the bad consequences are right in front of you we deny it.

All I'm saying Walter, is we need to get off the oil addiction. Hybrid cars are a great intermediate step. Electric cars with an improved electric grid are even better.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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