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Tesla tops Toyota as largest auto employer in California

Electric car maker continues to expand operations in the state, marking the return of a US automaker, following the shuttering of plants by GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

Coming attractions: All-electric Tesla Model X Tesla

Electric car maker Tesla has become the largest auto employer in California, writing a new chapter for US automakers in the state.

The Palo Alto, Calif. company now employs more than 6,000 people in the state, according to a Bloomberg report.

That means it passes Toyota, which employs 5,300 direct employees in California, Bloomberg said.

And that gap will widen, as Toyota is slated to move its headquarters from Southern California to Texas. Moreover, Tesla will add about 500 more workers by the end of the year in California, Bloomberg said, quoting a Tesla spokesperson.

This marks the reemergence of a US automaker in California.

General Motors, for example, had a long history of auto plants in California, with plants in Fremont, South Gate (opened in 1936), and Van Nuys (opened in 1947).

South Gate and Van Nuys closed long ago. The Fremont facility was closed, then reopened as a joint GM-Toyota assembly plant, then closed again when GM announced US-backed bankruptcy in 2009.

It was then reopened again by Tesla, where it makes the all-electric Tesla Model S today.

Tesla is also eying a former Chrysler facility in Lathrop, Calif. The company has been granted building permits to modify a 431,000-square-foot (40,000 square meters) industrial facility in Lathrop, according to Bloomberg.