Start of production at Tesla’s German Gigafactory still uncertain

Start of production at Tesla’s German Gigafactory still uncertain

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Last Friday (4 March), Dietmar Woidke, Minister President of Brandenburg announced at a press conference that the state government had granted Tesla the necessary operating permit for its planned production line several kilometres outside of Berlin. Series production in the electric car manufacturer’s first European plant can thus begin – or at least the preparations for it. Tesla boss Elon Musk plans to fly in for the official opening ceremony at the end of the month; on its German website, the company has been looking for employees on a large scale for quite some time – from engineers to receptionists.

But things are not that simple after all. It is unclear whether it is due to the dreaded German bureaucracy or Tesla’s shirt-sleeved management, which often began construction before the necessary regulations had been met in detail. Now a court has thrown a spanner in Tesla’s works, so to speak, and in one tiny but important detail has ensured that the opening ceremony may now have to be postponed after all. At the request of environmental protection associations, the Administrative Court of Frankfurt / Oder has declared Tesla’s plans for the water supply at the plant to be unlawful. These had already been approved by the responsible authorities; due to a formal error, this permission has now been revoked. The reason was that the public had not been involved in the procedure to the extent actually required. The ruling is not directed against Tesla directly, but against the regional water supply association.

The environmentalists criticise that the Gigafactory is to be built in a designated drinking water protection area and that the water extraction by Tesla is to be above the permissible level.

The consequences of the ruling for the commissioning of the Gigafactory are not entirely clear; however, market observers believe it is possible that the start of production will have to be postponed again. Tesla does not comment on this issue – the company does not even have a press contact.

Tesla’s plans call for the construction of up to 500,000 vehicles per year. The Gigafactory also includes an aluminium smelting plant, an aluminium foundry, surface treatment facilities and battery cell production, all together with the corresponding warehouses.

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