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December 5, 2016

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Hyperloop test track to come to North Las Vegas

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Steve Marcus

Elon Musk, chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors, speaks during the National Clean Energy Summit 5.0 on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, at Bellagio.

A new Elon Musk brainchild is coming to Nevada: Hyperloop.

A year after Tesla chose Northern Nevada for the site of its $5 billion gigafactory, Hyperloop Technologies Inc. will be opening up shop at Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas. Equipment is expected to begin shipping this month, and tests could begin as early as the first quarter of 2016. The Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Technologies is one of two startups racing to bring Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s conceptual design for high-speed, solar-powered travel in aluminium pods through an almost frictionless tube.

"As a state, we are working diligently to attract and grow innovative companies and technologies that advance industries of all kinds,” said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

“Hyperloop Tech is a cutting-edge company focused on changing the way the world views transportation, and we could not be more excited about the role the State of Nevada is going to play in this first phase of testing,” said Steve Hill, Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “It certainly is thrilling to see how Nevada is becoming a place to research, develop, test, and implement advanced technologies driven by innovation.”

The company plans to build its open-air test track on fifty of Apex’s 18,000 developable acres, which have remained relatively empty for decades. The announcement comes as rumors continue that the state is inching closer toward reaching a deal to lure the electric car startup Faraday Future to Apex.

"I want to thank Governor Sandoval and his team for their hard work to bring this tremendous opportunity to North Las Vegas,” said Mayor John Lee. “He believes, like I do, that Hyperloop Tech will not only provide an economic boost to the region, it will demonstrate that Apex is the ideal location for visionary technology businesses.”

Musk initially detailed the Hyperloop concept in a 58-page white paper that he released in August 2013, leaving it up to other companies to battle to bring the project to fruition while he continues to focus his attention on Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. He remains close to both Hyperloop Technologies and the similarly-named Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the two startups leading in the race to build the first Hyperloop, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Musk calls it the “fifth mode” of transportation — after aircraft, automobiles, boats and trains — and has described it as a “cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.”

Though Musk initially imagined Hyperloop as providing high-speed travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in only a half hour, Hyperloop Technologies plans to build a route between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, focusing first on freight and then human transportation. With Hyperloop technology, travel between the two cities would take only 20 minutes.

Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid met with executives from Hyperloop Technologies in September 2014. At the meeting, the executives detailed their plan to move people and cargo across the Southwest — and eventually, the world. They also asked Reid to introduce them to Anthony Marnell II, the Las Vegas resort developer and chairman of XpressWest, which has obtained or has federal authority to obtain rights-of-way access for a high-speed rail along a stretch of the I-15 corridor. XpressWest was selected last month as the state franchisee to build a high-speed rail system linking Las Vegas with Southern California.

Hyperloop Technologies recently formed a relationship with China Railway International USA, a consortium led by the Chinese government railway company, which has committed $100 million to the XpressWest project.

Hyperloop Technologies was founded by venture capitalist and angel investor Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Ventures and engineer Brogan BamBrogan, formerly of SpaceX. Former Cisco president Rob Lloyd was announced the company’s CEO in June. Last month, the company announced plans to build three Hyperloop projects over the next five years. Hyperloop Technologies plans to finish its first test track by late 2016 or early 2017 to have its system ready for commercial use by 2020.

Hyperloop Technologies’s biggest competitor, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, plans to build its first working Hyperloop in Quay Valley, north of Bakersfield in California’s Central Valley, for about $100 million to $150 million.

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