Electric cars could begin rolling off an Albuquerque assembly line in 2009 — and they'll look nothing like golf carts.
New Mexico's biggest city will be home to an automobile assembly facility for Tesla Motors' all-electric, four-door, five-passenger sedan that will sell for at least $50,000.
"I really believe the future is electric vehicles. I think we will look back upon gasoline-powered cars ... as a temporary aberration," company Chairman Elon Musk said at a news conference Monday.
Musk was a co-founder of the PayPal online payment system and is founder and chief executive officer of Space X, which develops and manufactures space launch vehicles.
The $35 million facility on Albuquerque's west side will mean 400 new jobs, Gov. Bill Richardson said.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who attended the event, said there's a mandate from the American people to reduce the addiction to foreign oil and deal with the problem of global warming.
"We're going to be a major participant in seeing electric cars become the cars of the future," Bingaman said.
Tesla, founded in 2003 and based in San Carlos, Calif., has more than 160 employees at design, engineering and manufacturing facilities in California, Michigan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
Its first vehicle, a two-seat sports car, will begin production this year at a facility in England.
The company plans to produce at least 10,000 cars a year at the Albuquerque plant, with the first cars scheduled to be ready in the fall of 2009. They would be able to travel 250 miles before being recharged, officials said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in April on the 150,000-square-foot plant.