SANTA ANA PUEBLO — About eight months after it was first announced, the new Tesla store located in Santa Ana Pueblo is now open for business.

Thursday’s grand opening for the 35,000-square-foot facility at 1300 Jemez Canyon Dam was attended by tribal and local officials, and included a tour and test drives for the roughly 200 people in attendance.

The Tesla facility, which sits near the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel, is the second in New Mexico. In 2021, the electric vehicle manufacturer led by Elon Musk opened its first store in the state at a former casino just north of Santa Fe in the Nambé Pueblo.

“Now that we have our facility up and ready to open (its) doors, it’s going to provide new opportunities for us not only here within the pueblo but in our surrounding communities,” Nathan Garcia, the governor of Santa Ana Pueblo, said. “It’s an honor to be a part of this that’s going to change people’s lives.”

The Tesla facility, which sits just northwest of the Santa Ana Star Casino, is the second in New Mexico. In 2021, the electric vehicle manufacturer led by Elon Musk opened its first store in the state at a former casino just north of Santa Fe in the Nambé Pueblo.

But the new facility just north of Albuquerque is the first in the state built from the ground up, Tesla officials said. It features a sales and delivery center, a vehicle showroom, customer lounge, 19 service bays and a parts and storage area.

New Mexico’s two Tesla facilities sit on tribal lands because of a state law that prohibits vehicle manufacturers from selling directly to consumers rather than through a franchise dealership. Because they are on tribal lands, sales of vehicles from those facilities are not subject to state law.

Officials say the new facility will create up to 25 jobs at full capacity. Additionally, tribal members now have direct access to training programs with Tesla – a move that pushes the local workforce toward clean energy jobs.

Jim Wills of Tamaya Ventures, the business arm of Santa Ana Pueblo, said the Tesla partnership and new facility falls in line with the pueblo’s belief that development is a generational process and doesn’t occur “through a narrow, immediate lens.”

“I think this partnership … really maps to that,” Wills said. “We have talented young people who are getting incredible exposure and skills. We have a pathway now for talented young adults to follow their passion and train. And then, of course, we have this incredible facility.”

The new facility comes as the country has seen an increasing interest in electric vehicles.

Companies such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have plans to ramp up the sale of electric vehicles over the next decade. And last year, auto makers sold more than 800,000 electric vehicles – nearly 6% of all vehicles sold – in the U.S., according to figures from Motor Intelligence.

Locally, the state has made plans to expand the number of charging stations across New Mexico. Sarah Cottrell Propst, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said Thursday the state has already completed more than $7 million in EV charging projects – and plans to leverage millions of dollars more in federal funding toward additional projects.

“As things stand today, we have 230 charging stations publicly available across New Mexico ranging from level one chargers … to level three, the fast chargers,” she said. “But with the plans on the table and expected federal funding, we can see a future in which EV charging stations are available roughly every 50 miles around our state with higher density in the more populated areas.”

Mark Hawes, the president of the Tesla Owners Club of New Mexico and an owner of two Tesla vehicles himself, estimates there are around 2,000 to 3,000 Tesla drivers in the state. But he said he expects that number to grow with the new Tesla facility.

“I think (this facility) will increase the sales of Teslas and their visibility,” Hawes said. “We are trying to help foster the adoption of electric vehicles and clean energy – that’s the ultimate goal.”