Bynum: “We lost Telsa because Mr. Musk wanted to live in Austin”

TULSA, Okla. — The City of Tulsa is in talks with electric vehicle and battery makers who hope to pick up where talks with Telsa left off before the company chose to move it headquarters to Austin, Texas last year instead of Green Country.

Speaking candidly with reporters after his State of the City address to the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Thursday, Bynum said there was nothing wrong with Tulsa’s proposals and plans it shared with Tesla executives, but it in the end came down to a personal preference of where Elon Musk wanted to buy a house and raise a family.

“We had a better application than Austin did. We lost out to Austin because Mister Musk wanted to live in Austin, if I’m speaking candidly here. I think ultimately that’s why we lost out,” Bynum said.

Last year, numerous efforts were made to court Musk and make him look favorably to Tulsa as the potential site for Tesla’s new headquarters including putting Musk’s face and a Tesla shirt on the legendary Golden Driller statue at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. Musk also flew in for a brief picnic with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt at a proposed site for the new headquarters.

But in the end, those efforts would be futile at least when it came to getting Tesla to Oklahoma.

Bynum said Tulsa, however, continues to benefit from being in the national spotlight as one of the top two finalists for Telsa to move its headquarters to after Musk announced he was frustrated the State of California’s COVID-19 precautions were keeping his factory shuttered and hurting production of vehicles.

Though Tesla chose Austin, Texas, Bynum said he and his office have been in closed door discussions with other electric vehicle and battery companies looking to compete with Telsa. Those companies, he said, are now being offered what Tesla passed up, and Bynum is hopeful new announcements in the same EV and battery production industry are around the corner.

“They are not live tweeting their site selection process the way Telsa chose to do theirs,” Bynum told FOX23. “So we can’t talk about them as openly, but I can tell you Tulsa is on the map for electric vehicle companies and battery companies that we were in no way on their radar before Tesla interest came.”

Bynum pointed to economic growth and quality of life improvements across the city that continue to not only prepare Tulsa for a strong future, but it addresses some of the issues about what residents can do after work in their free time and how they can enjoy the area with their families on their time off.