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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 9:48 PM
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Tesla quietly moves into Hutto

EDIE ZUVANICH Special to the Press

HUTTO – Tesla Inc. has filed permits to renovate a former industrial and storage building at 200 CR 199, according to a press release from the city of Hutto. The company submitted plans in December 2023 for over $1.5 million in modifications to the site, and construction is slated to start this month once the permits are approved.

“With the substantial technology investments continuing to come to Hutto and our neighbors, East WilCo is becoming the place to be for future-focused development,” said Ashley Bailey, director of development services for the city of Hutto.

Tesla joins Titan Development and Skybox Datacenters among other major developers with upcoming construction plans for the area.

David Amsler, assistant to the Hutto city manager, said that permits do not require Hutto City Council approval and generally take 15 days on average for each round of reviews. Asked about the potential impact to Hutto’s water shortage, he said the company has not yet indicated what their needs will be, but they are moving into an industrial site with an industrial use.

The Austin Business Journal named Alex Carpenter as the tenant listed on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filing, identifying him as Tesla’s senior staff materials engineer for battery recycling and a Hutto resident since 2022.

While Tesla has not indicated what their plans for the site are, Carpenter’s business profile says he leads an engineering team that specializes in battery metals and materials.

Recycling batteries for electric vehicles has been an ever-increasing challenge due to the expansion of the EV market. Batteries contain some valuable recyclable materials such as nickel and cobalt, as well as less valuable materials which are generally not recovered.

Some battery components that are not recycled may be sent to a landfill but some are hazardous and call for safe, permanent storage.

“The significant challenge in battery recycling is the variability in chemistry and form factor, and that we have to be cautious to discharge them when they are recovered,” said Professor Elsa Olivetti, co-director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate and Sustainability Consortium. She said old or broken lithiumion batteries can catch fire, which adds to the danger of stockpiling them for disposal.

The approximately 35,000 square foot building being occupied by Tesla sits on a four-acre site with an appraised value of just over $6 million. It was previously home to The JRS Company, a sign and frame manufacturer.

“Once the project has passed all relevant inspections, information can be released as to the type of work that Tesla will do at the Hutto location and the next steps for this project,” the city said in its statement.


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