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Telsa 'gigafactory' heads to Nevada. More to follow?

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Rebecca Cook/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A Tesla S electric car and a charging station are displayed during the press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan in January. Tesla Motors Inc is finalizing terms of a deal to build its first lithium-ion battery gigafactory in Nevada and will make an announcement about the deal September 4, 2014, according to reports.

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A press conference to be held this afternoon may answer one of the major questions for the future of electric-car maker Tesla Motors: Where will it locate its gigafactory?

The answer appears to be Nevada.

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The office of state governor Brian Sandoval said he would make a "major economic development announcement" in Carson City this afternoon, according to an Associated Press report.

The story broke yesterday afternoon in the San Jose Mercury News, which quoted Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean confirming that Tesla "looks forward to joining the governor and legislative leaders" at today's event.l

Site preparation work was completed some weeks ago at a location in the Reno-Tahoe Industrial Center, and speculation at the time pointed to that site as the most likely candidate for the huge plant.

Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas were all known to be competing for the $5 billion factory, for which Tesla demands $500 million of incentives from the chosen state.

Slide showing candidate states for Tesla Motors gigafactory, from Feb 2014 presentation

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that the company planned to prepare more than one site, to ensure that its so-called gigafactory would stay on schedule to start production of lithium-ion cells and battery packs in late 2017.

Those plans will continue, according an unnamed source quoted in the AP story, in case Nevada is unable to deliver the required incentives.

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The batteries produced at the gigafactory will permit Tesla to launch its planned Model 3 electric car, which is expected to be smaller than today's Model S luxury sedan, offer a rated range of 200 miles, and start at a price of $35,000.

The factory is expected to host up to 6,500 jobs, and include production of many different battery components.

Those include processing of precursor raw materials like lithium to cell fabrication machinery operated by Tesla's battery partner Panasonic, which will foot part of the cost.

The plant will also assemble fully-completed battery packs for the Model 3 cars, which will likely be manufactured in Tesla's plant in Fremont, California.

This story will be updated as more details become available.