LONDON -- A reported visit by Tesla CEO Elon Musk to the UK has prompted speculation that the entrepreneur is reconsidering Britain as a site for the production of batteries or cars.
Musk flew to the UK last week to visit Bristol in southwest England to view a potential car factory site, the Times of London reported, without quoting sources. Musk may have visited the site of a former munitions plant in Bridgewater, southwest of Bristol, the paper said. The site is being redeveloped as an energy-related business park.
Tesla is currently building a car factory plant Berlin, Germany, initially to build the Model 3. Production is scheduled to start in 2021, casting doubt on whether Tesla would need a second plant in the UK.
Musk has previously said Britain had been in the running for the plant location but Germany was chosen because of concerns about the future of the UK's future trading relationship with Europe. The UK quit the EU on Jan. 31 and is currently negotiating a trade deal with the bloc.
The auto industry in southwest England has been dealt blows following Honda's announcement it will shut its Swindon plant next year, as well as by Dyson's decision not to produce a electric SUV at the former Hullavington airfield in Chippenham.
Twitter users speculated that Musk's visit to Bridgwater might also be connected to Tesla's move into energy storage. Tesla recently confirmed that it will launch its Autobidder automated energy trading platform in the UK after the Telegraph newspaper reported Tesla has applied to be an energy supplier in the UK.
The Autobidder platform is being used to distribute power to South Australia from Tesla's Hornsdale Power Reserve where the automaker built the world's largest lithium ion battery storage system in 2017.