Tesla Motors Opening Technical Center in Michigan

While GM has been riding the eco-wave lately with its Chevy Volt concept, there's more electricity coming out of Detroit. Tesla Motors, manufacturer of high performance, zero-emission electric vehicles has opened its Michigan Technical Center in Rochester Hills, just north of Detroit and a local engineering Mecca.

This research and development facility will focus on future products for Tesla motors, including the "WhiteStar" (this is a code name), a four-door, five-passenger, lightweight, high-performance sedan planned for production around 2009. Word on the street is that the price of this electric sedan will be around $50,000, which is about half what it costs to get into their current car, the Roadster.

Besides the good news that Tesla is expanding, and planning on bringing down the price of future electric vehicles, there's a bigger story here.Detroit is the motor city, and most of Southeastern Michigan lives on money that is directly or indirectly tied auto companies. So there is a loyalty to the big three when it comes to buying a new vehicle. Oh, sure, there are rogue Hondas and VW's tooling around but Ford, GM and Chrysler drivers are the majority because these are the companies that feed local families.

Now, Tesla will feed local families, too. The more successful it is, the more jobs are created, and that opens up the options for broad minded residents. The sting of straying from the big three is alleviated when it buying an electric car is also supporting the local economy. And if it's ok to go electric in Detroit, could this crack the shell of hardened "Buy-American" types everywhere?

Tesla associating with other American automakers might help the idea of driving an electric car seem well, normal.

Of course, while it's all very exciting up front, once again we're looking a few years down the road to see this more affordable Tesla vehicle realized. Alternative energy is big talk these days, and while we continue to hear some great concepts and exciting production vehicles to come, we are going to have to remain patient to see the fruits of any action.

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