Tesla’s first European Gigafactory open near Berlin

The plant, located just outside Berlin, will eventually produce 500,000 electric vehicles annually as well as batteries for the cars.

The so-called gigafactory, situated in Grünheide in the rural state of Brandenburg, which surrounds the German capital, is the electric car manufacturer’s first production site in Europe.

Tesla had hoped to start production last summer, but the state approvals process dragged on, partly because the company decided to add a battery factory to the site, which is still under construction.

Nonetheless, Germans have been impressed by the speed of the project, in a country where major developments can often get bogged down by red tape.

The state of Brandenburg gave the go-ahead for the factory in early March, after Tesla had already clinched a slew of approvals.

While throwing down the gauntlet to Germany’s traditional auto giants, who have struggled for years to match the US carmaker’s emobility credentials, Tesla’s factory is also seen as a major boost for Germany’s former east, where employment and wages generally lag behind levels seen in the industrial heartlands in the west.

“I do think that we are in a very good development phase in eastern Germany,” said Brandenburg state premier Dietmar Woidke.

“After more than 30 years, if I may say so, it’s about time,” he told the Deutschlandfunk broadcaster.

In another coup for Germany’s east, US microchip manufacturer Intel announced last week that it would invest some EUR 17 billion (USD 18.7 billion) in two new factories in the city of Magdeburg.

Tesla has previously said that it invested billions of euros in its Grünheide location. In the first stage of its operation, the factory is to produce up to 500,000 electric cars per year and employ around 12,000 people. But not everyone in the region is happy about Tesla’s arrival.

Environmentalists have claimed the factory cannot account for its water usage in one of Germany’s driest regions, a registered water conservation area.

Woidke dismissed these claims, noting that, while the site was located in a registered water conservation area, the company had met all its obligations.

“I assume that we also have no threat to the drinking water supply in the region,” he said.

Source: gpa Germany today