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Tesla to close Michigan R&D center

by Andrew Ganz

Tesla, the California-based electric automobile manufacturer, isn't a company we'd expect to be struggling in these days where $3-a-gallon gas seems like a bargain. After yesterday's layoff report and changing of leadership, we've learned that Tesla will be closing its 30-employee research and development facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Billed as a boon for the Detroit area when it was opened in January 2007, the facility's closing is part of Tesla's cost-reducing measures. The company hasn't announced a closing date for the center.

Tesla says it will be focusing on its two revenue-producing businesses, the electric Roadster, which is currently being produced, and sales of electric powertrains to other companies.

It remains to be seen exactly how the closing will impact Tesla's future vehicle offerings. The company already announced that its Model S sedan plans have been delayed due to tightening economic circumstances, which means the company's 'everyday' $30,000 sedan has probably been put on hold, too. Tesla was also planning pickup truck and minivan models, but those too have undoubtedly put on hold.