PARIS (Reuters) - French Energy Minister Segolene Royal has suggested to Tesla TSLA.O founder Elon Musk that he builds an electric car factory on the site of France's oldest nuclear reactor after it closes at the end of the year, AFP reported on Tuesday.
French President Francois Hollande has pledged to close down the Fessenheim nuclear plant in the Alsace region near the German border but has met strong resistance from local politicians and unions worried about job losses.
“The main problem is the site’s transformation,” Royal said at a briefing, according to the news agency. “We need to give hope to this community. My idea is to bring a Tesla factory.”
The outspoken minister, who has courted controversy before with off-the-cuff statements, said she had mentioned the idea to Musk himself and would see Tesla’s management in 10 days.
“I said to him: ‘I have a place for you, Fessenheim’. He didn’t say no,” Royal said. “Who dares, wins,” she said.
Royal’s staff did not return a request from Reuters for comment.
French utility EDF EDF.PA says it employs 850 people at the Fessenheim site and 250 contractors.
France has been a big supporter of electric cars, offering a bonus of up to 10,000 euros ($11,000) for the purchase of such cars and making the country the biggest market in Europe.
Royal herself invested public funds in a now-defunct electric car maker when she was head of a French region.
Tesla’s Musk said he wanted to build a factory in Europe and mentioned Alsace in a video published by the specialist car website Automobile Propre in February.
“This is idle speculation, but maybe we could put a factory in Alsace, it’s like half in Germany, half in France, something like that,” Musk said in the video.
Reporting by Michel Rose
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