NOTICIAS DE LA INDUSTRIA AUTOMOTRIZ: Electric car production to be in N.M.

SANTA FE, N.M. –Electric cars could begin rolling off an Albuquerque assembly line in 2009 — and they’ll look nothing like golf carts.

New Mexico’s biggest city will be home to an automobile assembly facility for Tesla Motors’ all-electric, four-door, five-passenger sedan that will sell for at least $50,000.

“I really believe the future is electric vehicles. I think we will look back upon gasoline-powered cars … as a temporary aberration,” company chairman Elon Musk said Monday during a news conference.

Musk was a co-founder of the PayPal online payment system and is founder and chief executive officer of Space X, which develops and manufactures space launch vehicles. The $35 million facility on Albuquerque’s west side will mean 400 new jobs, Gov. Bill Richardson said.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who attended the event, said there’s a mandate from the American people to reduce the addiction to foreign oil and deal with the problem of global warming. “We’re going to be a major participant in seeing electric cars become the cars of the future,” Bingaman said.Tesla Motors Inc., founded in 2003 and based in San Carlos, Calif., has more than 160 employees at design, engineering and manufacturing facilities in California, Michigan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Its first vehicle, a two-seat sports car, will begin production this year at a facility in England.

The company plans to produce at least 10,000 cars a year at the Albuquerque plant, with the first cars slated to be ready in the fall of 2009. They would be able to travel 250 miles before being recharged, officials said. Construction is scheduled to begin in April on the 150,000-square-foot plant.

“This really fits us like a glove,” said Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, noting that the city is also home to Eclipse Aviation, an innovator in personal jet transportation. Tesla will get incentives from the state that include the high-wage job tax credit, the manufacturer’s investment tax credit and help from the Job Training Incentive Program, Richardson said.

Crops-to-fuel promises global revolution

GROWING demand for clean fuels distilled from plants will revolutionise agriculture in both rich and poor countries, a senior American agriculture official has said.

Michael Yost, the head of the US foreign agriculture service, said African and American farmers both stood to profit from the growing demand for grains that can be converted to ethanol or biodiesel, two clean-burning substitutes for gasoline and normal diesel fuel.

“The advent of renewable energy is global,” he said in an interview. “I think it could be the biggest paradigm shift we have seen in a long, long time in agriculture.”

Farmers who produce grains, sugar and plant oils all stand to benefit from the growing demand for biofuels and the higher prices that will surely follow, said Mr Yost.

Mr Yost spoke on the sidelines of the US-East Africa Region Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission.

Kenya’s minister for trade, Mukhisa Kituyi, told the conference that African governments recognise that agriculture is their strongest industry – but issued a warning.

“The fact that there is now an insatiable market in converting cereals into biodiesel not only escalates the prices of cereals around the world, but threatens to take food out of vulnerable mouths,” he said. “But a new opportunity has been created.”

He said if managed properly, African farmers could see a greater market for their goods and less competition from farmers in developing countries elsewhere.