Electric car maker’s new plant will challenge German automakers on their home turf
Tesla CEO Elon Musk applauds at the opening of the Tesla Berlin Brandenburg factory in Gruenheide. —AP
Electric carmaker Tesla opened its first European factory on the outskirts of Berlin on Tuesday in a bid to challenge German automakers on their home turf.
The company says its new “Gigafactory” will employ 12,000 people and produce 500,000 vehicles a year once it is fully operational. Initial production will focus on Tesla’s Model Y compact sport utility vehicle.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attended the opening ceremony in Gruenheide, southeast of the German capital, with Tesla boss Elon Musk performing an impromptu dance for fans as the first cars rolled out of factory for delivery.
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He then posted a comment on Twitter thanking Germany with the words “Danke Deutschland!” surrounded by German flags.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the plant’s opening was “a nice symbol” that petrol cars can be replaced by electric vehicles at a time when Germany and other European countries are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and wean themselves off Russia. oil.
Tesla began building the vast facility less than three years ago, before receiving official permissions to do so. If these permits had not been issued, the company would have had to level the site.
“It’s a different corporate risk culture,” Habeck said, after being asked to compare Tesla’s approach with the slow pace of German construction projects such as the nearby new Berlin Airport, which opened. nine years late.
Environmental activists have warned that the plant could affect the region’s drinking water supply.
Tesla dismissed these warnings. The company denied most media access to the site and ceremony on Tuesday.