We’ve known since early February that Austin, Texas is a top contender for the new Gigafactory America. In addition to producing batteries, the new centrally located American factory will build Model Y for the East Coast this year, and Cybertruck next year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that Austin would be a contender on February 4, 2020 when he tweeted a poll while changing his Twitter profile location to “Austin, Texas”:
Tesla Tulsa Steals the Thunder
As months went on without a final decision and Elon continued to drop hints about Texas, many people assumed that Austin would be the inevitable choice for the new American Gigafactory. All of a sudden, that doesn’t look so certain. Tulsa has delivered an amazing proposal to Elon and Tesla that’s surprisingly convincing. After looking over their materials, I’m convinced Tesla Tulsa could be the right place to build Cybertruck and Model Y.
Elon isn’t exactly your ordinary CEO. He’s famous for communicating with people directly online, and having a sense of humor that most CEOs wouldn’t dare to show in public (see: Born 69 days after 4/20). Elon doesn’t like bullshit and prefers people who cut to the point and say what they really mean over those who seek to misinform and deceive while maintaining a false pretense of credibility. The original name for “Starship” was BFR or “Big Fucking Rocket”.
In that spirit, Tulsa has submitted a proposal for Tesla to build Gigafactory America on their BFF (Big Fucking Field).
If you’re a Tesla fan and haven’t read through the homepage yet, be sure to do it soon –– it’s one of the funniest campaigns I’ve seen in a while. Amazing use of social media, and the memes from their Twitter account are brutal on Austin, which I find hilarious.
The homepage opens with a 3D animated video of a Cybertruck repeatedly jumping off a half pipe, and implores visitors to “See Why Austin Sucks”:
The Media Breaks the Story
Elon apparently liked their proposal. After Tesla representatives reportedly visited two sites in Tulsa, several major new outlets and blogs reported that Tulsa had been selected as a finalist including the Associated Press, CNBC, MarketWatch and others:
Unfortunately, there was one blog that once again reported the story wrong, claiming Austin had already been selected as the location for the new Tesla factory:
A Pattern of Mistakes
This is hardly the first time this blog has published misinformation about Tesla to their readers. Earlier this year, the same author spread the false rumor that Model 3 & Y would be getting air suspension, which Elon quickly said was completely false:
According to Tesla’s CEO, air suspension is not planned for Model 3 and Model Y. The feature will remain an exclusive for Tesla’s high end luxury Model S & X, as well as the upcoming Cybertruck. Despite the direct statement from the CEO of Tesla, nobody retracted the story. Instead, it was left up with this update:
Update: Elon Musk denied that this means an air suspension is coming to Model 3 despite the part appearing in Model 3 catalog.Electrek
Several people have expressed concern that leaving the story up would mislead anyone who didn’t read far enough down to see the update. But rather than apologize to readers for jumping to incorrect conclusions, Elon was implied to be the liar instead. These sorts of false rumors can be damaging to Tesla, since people may wait to purchase a car until after an update that is actually never coming.
Thankfully having learned their lesson from past experiences, they decided to do the right thing after getting the Gigafactory story wrong and apologize to readers for spreading misinformation.
Nah, I’m just kidding. Instead of apologizing for getting the facts wrong, Tesla was again blamed for “ruining their exclusive”, and the story remained online with the addition of this tweet:
Although the authors might laugh at Tulsa, Oklahoma is actually right next to Texas and the two cities aren’t that far away from each other:
It’s possible they hadn’t seen or reviewed the Big Fucking Field proposal, or didn’t think it would appeal to Musk. But for whatever reason, the author refused to retract the false story and claimed Tesla was “trying to muddy his report”. But according to the Associated Press:
The person says company officials visited Tulsa in the past week and were shown two sites.Associated Press
Did Tesla officials visit not one but two sites in Tulsa just to “muddy” a story? After reading their proposal, Tulsa makes a strong case for their city as a top contender for the new factory site, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they’re chosen as a winning production site in some form.
Spreading the false story that Austin has already been chosen could be damaging to Tesla’s negotiation effort, and a killer for Tulsa’s morale as each municipality provides their final proposals. It’s quite possible that this false information was passed to these bloggers by city officials who wanted to gain the upper hand against Tesla, or by TSLAQ operatives trying to damage Tesla’s site selection efforts. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time they’ve publicized TSLAQ talking points:
In the latest episode of their podcast, the authors repeated TSLAQ talking points circulated against me claiming I was “suspended for Twitter for harassment”. In my Response to their Op-Ed, I provided documentation from Twitter to show that this claim was false. Now, if you’re going to go and attack someone for “Toxic Spreading of Misinformation” in an op-ed… you should probably make sure you don’t accidentally publish any false stories yourself the very next day. This seems obvious, but maybe not to everyone.
Hilariously, the false Tesla Texas story was discussed on the same podcast episode where they slandered Vincent, myself, and other Tesla owners. Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a lot of talent to do a whole podcast where every single story discussed is wrong.
The state of the media in the internet age is sad. People care so much about being first, instead of being right, because that’s how they make money. Is it really important to break the news one hour earlier than everyone else if you get it completely wrong?
We don’t like misinformation from anybody whether it’s ourselves, a major media outlet, or a blog. More than that, do you really want to live in a world where some people are above criticism, and will try and attack anybody that calls out their inaccuracies? Once someone publishes false information about you because it’s convenient to the story they want to tell, you realize they may not be fact checking other things they publish either.
Tulsa makes a convincing case that Austin may not really be the city Tesla wants. Tesla wants a production facility in the American heartland that will help win favor with truck buyers, so Tulsa points out that Austin is viewed as a sort of “California in Texas”, with many people recently leaving California to go to Austin.
They highlight Elon’s frustrations with California regulators, making a fair point that Tesla may not be welcomed with open arms there the same way they would be in Tulsa. Texas and Austin have huge economies, with many oil companies and other businesses calling the state home. Tesla isn’t even allowed to sell cars there. Does Tesla really want to break ground in another crowded, heavily populated metropolis with lots of rules? Or do they want to make a home in Tulsa, where local officials would love to have them, and show them some true Oklahoma hospitality?
This proposal was smart, funny and creative –– defying the expectations and stereotypes people have for a city like Tulsa that’s far from the tech capitals of the world.
In a world where people are quick to judge and misunderstand Elon Musk, this proposal shows deep understanding and appreciation for who the guy is. Whoever is behind this campaign did an amazing job. Before, I thought Austin was a sure thing. Now, I can see why Tesla is strongly considering Tulsa as the new location.
Tesla Tulsa. It really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
So it’s Tulsa then?
I don’t know. I’m not trying to make any predictions here, and both cities are great choices. All I know is that their proposal was hilarious, and it would be a fantastic location to build Cybertruck and Model Y and distribute them across North America.
Austin is the favorite, and I like an underdog. So I’m rooting for Tesla Tulsa.
hahahahah yes love this dark gloating energy https://t.co/3n5xXl8FEg— Big Fucking Field in Tulsa, OK (@BigFuckingField) May 19, 2020