Electric carmaker Tesla’s highly anticipated Travis County manufacturing plant is slated for completion before the end of 2021, with some operations potentially coming online as soon as May. CEO Elon Musk has previously confirmed that the gigafactory will produce the company’s new Cybertruck as well as the Tesla Model Y and Tesla Semi.

The $1 billion, 4 million-5 million-square-foot plant, referred to by Musk as Giga Texas, should finish construction by the fourth quarter of this year, Musk said in an annual shareholders meeting in October. But local presentations by Tesla representatives last fall indicated May 1, 2021, as the “first substantial completion date”—the time at which construction will be complete enough to sustain some level of operations, per American Institute of Architect standards.

Giga Texas is expected to create 5,000-plus jobs over the next four years. Tesla is already hiring a number of manufacturing positions for the factory as well as engineers. One recent job posting seeks a manufacturing engineering manager to lead battery production. Musk outlined a broad shift toward in-house battery production for Tesla’s electric cars at the October shareholders meeting, including plans to focus on battery production at a gigafactory under construction in Berlin. He has not announced whether the Texas facility will have a significant focus on battery production.

“For Berlin and Austin, we do expect to start delivering cars from those factories next year,” Musk said in October. “Because of the exponential nature of the scaling up of a manufacturing plant, it will start off very slow at first, and the output will become very large.”

Tesla’s 2,000-acre property at the intersection of SH 130 and Harold Green Road east of Austin shows significant site development, with the basic structure of the factory largely erected.

Tesla continues to work with Travis County—which has offered the company approximately $13.9 million in tax incentives—as plans move forward. Most recently, county commissioners voted Jan. 13 to support Tesla’s federal request for designation as a foreign trade zone, which would exempt the automaker from customs duty payments on materials used in export production.

According to county staff, the designation will not affect the property tax payments Tesla will owe the county.

This story is part of Community Impact Newspaper's Annual Community Guide, which takes a look at the biggest development, education, health care, education, government and local business stories for the year ahead.