AUSTIN, Texas — During Cyber Rodeo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk focused on Tesla's timeline: where the company had been, where it is now and where it's going.
In that theme, Musk unveiled the first cars to be delivered from the Giga Texas production line along with his plans for the company's future. That future places a big focus on Austin and Central Texas.
"This is honestly the beginning of kind of a new future for this town," said Garrett Groves, who works at Austin Community College overseeing the school's partnership with the company.
He's not alone. Ed Latson, the president of Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, and Matt Holm, the president of the Austin Tesla Owners Club, agree: Tesla will bring a new era of manufacturing and technology to the Texas capital.
"It's pretty incredible what the potential is and what could happen there. I'm not even sure if they know yet," Latson said. "You know, this technology is changing so fast, so the exciting part to me is that, you know, the foundation is here, they have this, you know, really exciting runway in front of them. And, you know, we just have to stand back and see what comes out of the factory."
Holm, who helped host his club's TeslaCon the day after Cyber Rodeo, added that Tesla may well become more than just a vehicle manufacturer.
"It's a software company, it's [artificial intelligence] software, it's robotics. And I think it's going to make Austin a really important technology piece that's going to be global," Holm said. "You're going to think Paris, London, L.A., New York, Austin."
During the party, Musk showed off Tesla's Cybertruck, robot and semi, just some of the products that have gone from paper to production in the last year. For Latson, this is just the beginning of Austin's role in developing new products and technology.
"I don't think people realize how important this factory is from a strategic standpoint for Tesla. They are dominating the electric car market in the United States. I think they are 70% of the market of cars sold in the electric vehicle space, but they're just a fraction of the vehicles being made in the world when you look at internal combustion engines and the total amount of vehicles being sold," Latson said. "I think their mission is really to to take over more market share from that broader market and really start to be a significant player. And to do that, they have to have factories and capabilities to make more cars because the demand is there."
While this growth and potential generates a lot of buzz and excitement, it also begs the question if Austin and Central Texas can handle it.
"There's a lot of conversations to have about how do we ensure equitable access to all of these pathways [between ACC and Tesla]? How do we all afford to live in a city that's growing as fast as ours? There's real important challenges for us to solve, but today it's nice to know that we have a lot of good paying jobs that need to be filled," Groves said.
"My concern is what is that affordability look like?" Holm, a real estate agent with Compass, said. "And, you know, think about the Bay Area, where 1% of people can afford the median price home. That's unfortunately something that I think about in my line of work. And so it's not all, all rosy."
These questions continue to echo throughout Austin at every level of government to try and find short-, medium-, and long-term answers to the housing crisis the Texas capital finds itself in.
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