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Tesla announces start of production in Austin during earnings meeting

During Wednesday's meeting, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Gigafactory started making Model Y SUVs in late 2021.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced during the company's 2021 Q4 Earnings Report meeting that the Gigafactory in Austin started producing vehicles in December 2021.

"In Texas, we're building the Model Y's with the structural battery pack and the 46-80 cells, and we will start delivering after a final certification of the vehicle, which should be fairly soon," Musk said in his opening remarks.

The Gigafactory is set to churn out Model Y SUVs, as well as Tesla's new Cybertruck. Distribution of vehicles from Austin's factory has not yet started. According to reports, Cybertruck production and distribution may be delayed until 2023. 

However, Musk tweeted Tuesday his own experience driving a Cybertruck.

"You can make something infinitely desirable, but if it's not affordable, that will constrain people's ability to buy it because, 'We don't have the money,'" Musk said. "I'd worry more about like, how do we make the Cybertruck affordable, despite having this awesome technology."

During the earnings meeting, Musk repeated production delays have been due to slow semiconductor chip manufacturing. 

"The chip shortage, while better than last year, is still an issue," Musk said. "There are multiple supply chain challenges. And last year was difficult to predict and hopefully this year will be smooth sailing."

Musk boasted the Gigafactory would bring thousands of jobs to the Austin area. As the company continues to hire more people in a variety of positions, the Texas Association of Manufacturers emphasized the ripple effect of the large company's production starting up.

"Manufacturing has a very high jobs multiple in the automotive industry," Tony Bennett, President and CEO of TAM, said the morning before the earnings meeting. "That's 11-to-1. In other words, for every direct job inside the Tesla plant, they will spin off an additional 10 jobs, mostly in the region. Some may be outside of the region, where the vendors and suppliers may be further away, but basically 10 for one is a really good rate of return."

According to Bennett, those spin-off jobs can come in any industry. Some may stay in the manufacturing industry, such as smaller manufacturers who provide parts to bigger companies. Others might manifest in other industries, such as leisure or service as the bigger company brings more people to the area.

"Those are very symbiotic relationship type jobs and they're going to be here permanently," Bennett said.

While Musk plans to continue growing the automotive tech company in the 2022 with plans to announce new factories by the end of the year, he noted the year's output will be very dependent on supply chain concerns.

"We do expect see significant growth in 2022 over 2021, you know, comfortably above 50 percent growth in 2022," Musk said.

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