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$5B electric vehicle factory near Fort Worth would rival huge Tesla plant in Austin

A $5 billion electric vehicle company backed by Amazon & Ford is weighing a North Texas site that would roughly match the scope of Tesla’s heavily hyped gigafactory.
Credit: Jake Dean/Dallas Business Journal
Trinity Park in Fort Worth

A $5 billion electric vehicle company backed by Amazon and Ford is weighing a North Texas site that would roughly match the scope of Tesla’s heavily hyped gigafactory under construction outside of Austin.

The site being considered in the Walsh development 12 miles southwest of downtown Fort Worth was one of the top locations pitched by North Texas leaders when Amazon was searching for a place to build its massive HQ2 project.

The Walsh development was designed to handle the nation and world’s biggest corporate projects — and this would be one of them.

Irvine, Calif.-based Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric-vehicle startup backed by Ford and Amazon, is in negotiations to invest at least $5 billion to build a factory with the capacity to produce 200,000 vehicles a year, according to a presentation Tuesday night by the city of Fort Worth’s Economic Development Department to the City Council.

The endeavor, code-named Project Tera, would create at least 7,500 jobs by 2027 with a minimum average annual salary of $56,000. The factory would include 12 million square feet of vertical construction.

The Fort Worth EDC proposed an economic development package with Rivian that would include up to $440 million in grants and county tax abatements, according to the presentation.

Although Rivian’s facility would be primarily factory rather than office space, it would be more than five times as big as Toyota’s 2.1-million-square-foot corporate headquarters complex on 100 acres in Plano and employ more than twice as many workers, albeit at lower average salaries. Rivian’s project would have five times the capital investment as Toyota’s, which is widely touted as one of North Texas’ biggest and most impactful economic development wins ever.

The scale of Rivian’s proposed Fort Worth spread would be similar in many ways to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla’s manufacturing plant being built just outside of Austin, although comparisons are difficult because final elements of both projects are in flux or haven’t been released by the respective companies.

Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have touted the so-called GigaTexas project as the largest automotive manufacturing facility in the United States. The plant is being built on just over 2,480 acres Tesla purchased last year. The electric automaker will hire at least 5,000 employees to work at the facility, according to a presentation the company gave to Travis County officials in June 2020. Musk said in a March 31 tweet that “Over 10,000 people are needed for GigaTexas just through 2022!”

The city of Austin has approved the first phase of GigaTexas for just over 7.9 million square feet of covered construction area.

The $5 billion capital investment commitment from Rivian includes a minimum $2 billion in real property improvements and $1.6 billion in hard construction costs, according to the presentation to the Fort Worth council.

Brandom Gengelbach, CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, declined to comment on details of the Rivian proposal, saying only, "We are pumped that Project Tera is considering Fort Worth as a finalist."

For more on the potential factory, click here.

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