Tesla suppliers traveling from Nuevo León, Mexico, to Texas now have their very own dedicated border patrol lane. Elon Musk's electric car company, which recently relocated its headquarters from Fremont, California, to Austin, has struck a deal with the “pro-business” Mexican state to allow express access for Tesla and its suppliers at the Colombia Solidarity checkpoint, reports Bloomberg.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, however, has given Tesla no such exemption, according to a spokesperson from the agency, so it looks like the ease of access is only one way for now.
“For northbound commercial trucks at the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge, currently there are only the regular cargo lanes and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lane, which is for the exclusive use of companies that are enrolled in the CBP-Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program,” Rick Pauza, public affairs officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told TechCrunch. “There is no separate, dedicated lane for Tesla or any specific company.”
Nuevo León is home to at least six Tesla suppliers, including APG Mexico and Taiwanese-based companies EnFlex Corp. and Quanta Computer. Ivan Rivas, the region's economy minister, told Bloomberg that Nuevo León is becoming an “electro-mobility hub,” and that he expects the EV industry to contribute to between 5% and 7% of investment in the state this year.
Rivas, who didn't negotiate the deal, also expressed to Bloomberg that the region had an economic incentive for playing ball with Tesla, and hopes to potentially do similar deals in the future with other companies, likely those that will also position suppliers in Nuevo León.
The Colombia-Solidarity crossing site isn't one of Mexico's most popular border crossings, where the highest average wait time is 26 minutes. Nuevo León's border authority is expanding the Colombia crossing from six lanes to eight.
The dedicated lane — which is only for the company and suppliers, not Tesla owners — can be found at a remote border crossing a few miles north of Laredo, Texas. A green highway sign that says “TESLA” and is written in the company's iconic font is nestled between one lane for cars and another for empty trucks or buses.
TechCrunch spoke to four different border patrol and customs agents along the Texas-Mexico border and two from the California-Mexico border — all of whom say it is unusual to see one company have dedicated access to a lane.
Tesla could not be reached since it has disbanded its press office, so it's unclear whether the automaker gave anything to Nuevo León in exchange for the dedicated lane, but it's possible the region just wanted to accommodate Musk's company for bringing industry and potentially jobs.