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Tesla’s first acquisition moves it closer to Detroit

Made in Michigan?
By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Tesla isn’t quite invading the Motor City, but it’s getting closer: The company confirmed to Quartz that it has acquired Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Riviera Tool, which makes complex machinery that is already being used in Tesla factories.

“We are excited to have reached a deal with Riviera and have a presence in the state of Michigan and bring additional tool building capabilities in-house,” a Tesla spokesman said in an email. “This acquisition will help us to build new stamping and plastic parts in a cost effective manner, support new metal forming technology development, and allow us to increase production as we introduce more models.”

Terms of the deal, first reported by the Detroit Free Press, were not disclosed.

Tesla has had an adversarial relationship with the Detroit-centric US auto industry, and in October Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed a law that banned the company from directly selling its cars in the state. Establishing a beachhead in Michigan’s auto industry could help the company make inroads—but it will never have the heft of natives like General Motors, which pushed for the anti-Tesla sales law.

Riveria, which has about 100 employees, will eventually be renamed as Tesla Tool & Die, according to the Free Press. The company specializes in making stamping die systems—the complicated machinery that lets manufacturers stamp out metal auto parts. Tesla is trying to rapidly ramp up its production capabilities and has identified its body shop as one choke point.

Here’s a look at the robotic stamping machinery that is used to make the Tesla Model S:

Tesla’s investment in Michigan, although relatively small, was welcome news for the state’s beleaguered auto workers, who have suffered through decades of diminishing prospects as manufacturing jobs moved elsewhere.

“I, for once, am not worried about my trade’s future,” one Riviera employee told the Grand Rapids television station 24 Hour News 8. “It’s so refreshing to finally be excited about our future.”

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