TESLA – Operation seduction near Berlin. The US manufacturer Tesla inaugurated its future “gigafactory” this Saturday, October 9, the first in Europe, with the hope of delivering its first electric cars in December.
Thousands of people were received for a festive ceremony, while the company has not yet received the building permit and some neighbors are opposed to the project.
The participants were transported in special shuttles to Grünheide, on the outskirts of Berlin, forming long queues to access the group’s first European factory, in front of which dozens of white tents, a Ferris wheel and merry-go-rounds had been set up, as can be seen in our video at the top of the article.
At the end of the afternoon, the iconic head of the group, Elon Musk, made an appearance, trying to read a few sentences in German, before resuming his speech in English.
“Elon Musk is here and speaks German”
“We are ready to start production in a few months, in November or December, to deliver our first cars in December,” he said.
With this plant we want to produce cheap electric cars in large quantities (…) to accelerate the energy transition ”, Elon Musk also launched, amid applause.
The ceremony was developed with concerts of electronic music, tours of factories and vegetarian food trucks, for a day that the American group wanted in the image of Berlin, the European capital of the party.
Seduce the locals
Through these “open doors”, the American manufacturer wants to show its white claws to the inhabitants, after several months of controversy. In fact, Tesla has benefited from an exceptional and controversial pre-authorization procedure, which allowed it to start work in 2019, before obtaining a building permit.
Since then, local authorities have not issued a final approval, which are still evaluating the plant’s impact on the environment. However, the work is almost finished. This exceptional regime – and the resulting administrative situation – aroused the ire of some residents, concerned about the region’s water resources and biodiversity.
“Stop Tesla”, “the water and the forest are not for private profit”: some of them met on Saturday morning about a hundred meters from the factory to express their rejection of the project. “It’s amazing to be able to build such a factory without authorization!” Indignant Gurdrun Lübeck, a 69-year-old local activist.
Demonstrations, legal actions, open letters … opponents, supported by associations, have mobilized in recent months to delay the project. Last year, justice even forced Tesla to suspend his work due to the risk of destruction of the natural habitat of protected species of lizards and snakes.
A public consultation, scheduled as part of the procedure for obtaining the permit, is open until October 14. Final authorization should not be granted before this date. This is essential for the factory to start production.
“A date has not yet been set” to issue this authorization, the Brandenburg Environment Ministry, the region where the plant is located, told AFP.
Among the party guests, mostly local, we did not find only unconditional supporters of the company. “I am a critic, in a way. There are not enough roads here, nor space for such a factory, ”says 35-year-old Marlen Winkler.
A target of 500,000 Tesla produced each year.
The plant, announced with great fanfare in November 2019, will cover 300 hectares and produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year. Many fear the insufficient infrastructure to accommodate such a facility in this former East German region.
The plant should benefit from the latest technologies, including “the world’s largest spare parts molding machine,” says Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, an automotive expert and director of the German institute Center Automotive Research.
Elon Musk also plans to build “the world’s largest battery factory” there. The group will have to decommission the plant on its own if no construction permit is issued. A result considered “unlikely” by Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, due to “political support” for the project. “All political parties are in favor,” recalls the expert.
But “building modifications” could be requested, delaying the opening. It was initially scheduled for July.
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