Tesla disputes report of delay in Nevada battery plant

DETROIT — Construction has been delayed for Tesla Motors Inc.’s giant $5 billion battery plant in Northern Nevada, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Friday, citing union job postings, but the electric carmaker said the project was on schedule.

A national job board for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers updated its listing for “Project Tiger” — the initial code name for the factory — to indicate a change in demand for electricians, the newspaper said.

“The Tiger project has been cut back by 80 percent at this time,” it quoted the IBEW post as saying. “This is all subject to change.”

A local branch of the union in Reno, Nevada, also posted a message about the plant on its job referral page, the paper said. “The major project in the area has been delayed at this time. Further updates will be posted as soon as we know more,” the paper quoted a post by the IBEW Local 401 site as saying.

Tesla spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson told Reuters the project was on schedule.

The company also told the Reno Gazette-Journal the project was on track and disputed reports of delays. It declined to say whether there had been a change in its plans for the site.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said last month the company remains “on plan” to begin battery production in 2016 at the plant outside Reno.

A spokesman for the local IBEW union declined to comment to the Reno Gazette-Journal. An officer with the Building & Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada told the paper there had been a reduction in hours but declined further comment.

The plant is projected to eventually create as many as 6,500 jobs.

The paper said the common reason for the delay was a change in design plans for the plant. An unidentified source told the paper the situation is more of a short-term delay.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson said in a research note on Monday, citing company regulatory filings, that most of Tesla’s capital spending so far has been focused on the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV under development and little has been spent on the battery plant.

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