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Update: Reno out of the running for Gigafactory as California bolts into the lead?

Ah, the joys of speculation. Since activity was reported at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center that looked suspiciously like Gigafactory construction, new reports have emerged that the site may already have been shut down. Meanwhile, California continues to make its case to Tesla.

In the span of mere hours, Reno went from the most likely candidate to land the prized Tesla Gigafactory to being crossed off the list. Soon after, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported that California has “closed the gap” with the other leading contenders and may be the new dark horse. If there’s anything we have learned so far, though, it is that we won’t know for sure until Tesla says so.

A roller coaster of news for Reno

Last week Torque News reported (via Bob Tregilus and Greentech Media) that a massive construction project carried out in secrecy in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center could very well be the future Gigafactory.

Tregilus uncovered the site and took photos, offering his own speculation and investigating among the locals to eventually confirm that the site known as “Project Tiger” was in fact the work of Tesla. Things were looking quite good for Reno.

Almost overnight, though, more reports emerged from various Reno sources that there had been a massive layoff and the project was being cancelled. Other sources confirmed that the project had been operating severely behind schedule and missed all the “major milestones” set by the client, strongly believed to be Tesla.

California makes its push

Formerly a long shot to land the Gigafactory, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports that California may now be one of the favorites after an aggressive push by the state legislature to force through a bill to provide benefits to Tesla and attempt to speed up the approval process.

Tesla spokesman Simon Sproule says that California has impressed Tesla and has “reentered the race” through its efforts to move quickly, as speed is of the essence for the massive battery factory that will provide the packs for Tesla’s Model III sedan in 2017.

It ain’t official until it’s official

We will conclude this analysis just as the previous report on Reno: we still don’t know who is going to get the sought-after Gigafactory. At the moment it appears as though the Reno site is out of the running, but the region still has a lot going for it and the particular site could just be undergoing a change in contractor.

California also seems to have emerged as a contender, but it doesn’t have potential sites as attractive as Nevada and still could slow Tesla down more so than the other candidates. It also seems as though California is already behind schedule in that no known ground-breaking has taken place, whereas the Reno project was almost certainly started by Tesla.

Again, this is why Tesla wanted to break ground at multiple sites. Despite the extra expense, everything has to go right for the Gigafactory to come online as scheduled, and the company can’t afford setbacks. Until Tesla confirms the final location of the Gigafactory, no state is officially out of the running. As we’ve seen before, surprises can come out of nowhere to render previous speculation moot.