Cooling tower at power plant, by Flickr user Paul J Everett (Used under CC License)
What do you do with a decommissioned nuclear power plant?
If you’re the French government, you offer the land it sits on to Tesla Motors as a potential new factory site.
Tesla has mulled large-scale European production for some time, and French Energy Minister Segolene Royal believes she can get the company to commit with this somewhat unusual pitch.
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Royal mentioned the nuclear plant to Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a recent conversation, and will meet with other Tesla officials soon, reports Reuters.
“He didn’t say no,” Royal said in describing her talk with Musk.
The site in question is at Fessenheim, in the Alsace region near the border with Germany.
The nuclear plant there is France’s oldest, commissioned in 1977, and French President Francois Hollande is committed to closing it down.
But that decision was met with stiff resistance from local interests, who fear job losses.
Replacing the nuclear plant with a Tesla car factory would solve that problem, Royal believes.
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Tesla currently has a small plant in The Netherlands that does final assembly work for cars destined for the European market.
Musk has hinted in the past that Tesla could open a larger plant in Europe, which would presumably handle complete manufacturing of cars.
Securing a Tesla factory would be a major coup for Energy Minister Royal, who has been especially vocal in promoting electric cars within the French government.
Tesla Motors production line for Tesla Model S, Fremont, California
France currently offers a 10,000-euro (roughly $11,000) bonus to drivers who replace older diesel cars with new electric cars.
Diesels have been the mainstay in France for decades because of their high fuel economy, but the country now has to deal with greater air pollution as a result.
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In addition to the scrapping scheme, Royal has proposed an end to tax benefits for diesel fuel, which is currently taxed less than gasoline.
Last year, she also called for the development of a “popular electric car” that would cost no more than 8,000 euros ($9,000).
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