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Toyota invests $50M in Tesla for electric car

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Toyota invests $50M in Tesla for electric car

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- United Auto Workers members who lost their jobs in April when a California auto factory closed should get a "fair shake" when it reopens, a White House adviser said.

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to invest $50 million in Tesla Motors Inc. to develop an electric car and build it at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant -- known as NUMMI -- in Fremont, near San Francisco.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Jared Bernstein, the vice president's top economic adviser, said the 4,000 "highly skilled" former hourly workers at NUMMI should get a shot at the 1,000 jobs that will be created when the plant reopens.

"It's important that the skilled and well-trained workers who formerly worked there have a fair shake at getting the jobs," Bernstein told reporters on a conference call. The UAW workers "ought to have a fair shake just like anyone else."

President Barack Obama, while in California today, plans to tout the decision of Toyota and Tesla to jointly reopen the shuttered factory.

Obama will visit a solar panel manufacturing facility in Fremont. He doesn't plan to visit NUMMI, and the White House didn't say if he would meet with Tesla executives.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger praised the announcement to reopen NUMMI and said "our union's hope is that this venture will give first hiring preference to former NUMMI employees who are already trained and highly skilled."

Bernstein, however, declined to endorse Gettelfinger's suggestion that the UAW workers get first preference.

"We're certainly not going to take a position on specifically who should be hired," he said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he expects employment at the plant to rise to 1,000 soon -- and eventually reach 10,000, with half of the people employed by Tesla and the other half by suppliers.

Musk said last week he didn't have strong feelings about whether the facility would be unionized.

Palo Alto-based Tesla has delivered more than 1,000 electric Tesla Roadsters costing more than $100,000 each. It plans to produce more affordable electric cars, such as a new Model S, which it will build in Fremont. That model is expected to cost about $57,400.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100526/AUTO01/5260360/1148/Toyota-invests-$50M-in-Tesla-for-electric-car#ixzz0p2PslcWh

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