Ségolène Royal, the French energy minister, has revealed that she has opened discussion with Elon Musk over the conversion of one of the country’s nuclear reactor sites into a factory for the latter’s company, Tesla.
France currently has one the largest markets for electric cars in the whole of Europe and has long been a big promoter of the industry, going as far as offering anyone who purchases a new electric car a financial bonus of up to around €10,000. The addition of a Tesla factory within the country would be a big boost to the country where an overwhelming portion of cars purchased are produced domestically.
And the nuclear site, Fessenheim, seems like a perfect fit.
Fessenheim, in the Alsace region of the country, is home to France’s oldest nuclear facility. There have been repeated calls for the closure of the Fessenheim nuclear plant over the last couple of years, in particular from the now President Francois Hollande.
However, these calls have been met with resistance from those concerned about the potential job losses. Currently, EDF who own the site employ around 850 permanent staff and a further 250 contractors.
Now it appears that Ms Royal has come up with a potential solution for those in both camps.
She said: “The main problem is the site’s transformation. We need to give hope to this community. My idea is to bring a Tesla factory.”
Earlier this year Musk expressed interest in opening up a facility in France, revealing his (albeit non-committal) intentions in a video interview with French car website Automobile Propre [Your Own Car].
He mentioned the Alsace region by name saying: “this is idle speculation, but maybe we could put a factory in Alsace,” explaining that “it’s like half in Germany, half in France, something like that”.
Royal said that she had spoken to Musk, telling him: “I have a place for you, Fessenheim”.
According to Royal, “he didn’t say no”. She added, enigmatically reciting the motto of twelve of the world’s Special Forces units, that “who dares, wins”.
However, Royal has, by her own admission, only had a brief conversation with Musk himself and intends to have a longer meeting with more representatives of the Tesla company in the next couple of weeks.