Tesla marks opening of Texas Gigafactory with flashy celebration

Chief executive Elon Musk calls the Thursday night event the 'biggest party on Earth'

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Elon Musk is promising a big party for his closest employees on Thursday to celebrate the opening of a new Tesla factory in Austin, Texas.

And while the car maker received a permit to host as many as 15,000 people for the invitation-only “Cyber Rodeo,” Mr Musk tweeted that "the door won’t be super strict".

Photos and video footage of the building site published by fans show art installations, stages and a sea of Texas-made Model Y sport utility vehicles apparently waiting to be shipped to customers.

As Thursday arrived, Mr Musk tweeted images and video of preparations including a kaleidescope-like walkway leading into a plant, which has been given a nightclub look with red and blue lights.

Tesla electric cars were on a stage backed by a giant "Giga Texas" sign in neon lights.

Mr Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer, tweeted that the “biggest party on Earth” would start at 8pm and that he would address the crowd about an hour later. Tesla has promised to stream the festivities live.

Tesla fans have posted drone footage and other video showing sightings of what could be new vehicle models on display at the event.

"I got a golden ticket," Luke Metger, president of a Texas environmental organisation, tweeted on the eve of the party, attaching a screen-shot of his invite to the Cyber Rodeo-Giga Texas gala.

The $1 billion factory is critical to Tesla’s expansion. The company has been operating around capacity at its Fremont, California, plant since the heady days of 2018, when it erected a giant tent in the parking lot to boost output of the Model 3 sedan.

The car maker’s furious growth over the past two years is largely thanks to a factory outside Shanghai. In October, Tesla hosted about 9,000 people to celebrate the opening of a plant outside Berlin.

Giga Texas has been in operation since late last year. It is Tesla’s second plant in the US, and the fifth and largest gigafactory cranking out battery packs and vehicles for Tesla.

It should be able eventually to produce 500,000 vehicles a year, Mr Musk has said. Tesla delivered more than 936,000 vehicles worldwide in 2021.

News agencies contributed to this report

Updated: April 08, 2022, 3:40 AM