Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory gets the green light – POLITICO

BERLIN – Tesla on Friday received final approval for its Gigafactory plant just outside of Berlin, setting the stage for fierce competition from European automakers for the fast-growing battery-powered car market.

The project has been plagued by delays since its launch in 2019, partly related to opposition from green groups concerned about the factory’s environmental impact. The decision ends the uncertainty about her fate; It was built on 19 temporary permits.

“This approval process was a mammoth task,” says Dietmar Woidke, Prime Minister of the state of Brandenburg, where the plant is located. said in a statement. He noted that the final approval is 537 pages long, with several thousand pages of appendices.

The decision is “a small ray of sunshine in challenging times,” he told reporters on Friday.

So far, only 2,000 electric vehicles have been made at the plant under a pilot program, but Tesla aims to build up to 500,000 units there each year.

These plans have prompted German automakers to step up their own clean car ambitions. Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes Benz are investing in battery research to meet the challenge. On Friday, Volkswagen, which has already pledged to spend €89 billion on electric vehicles, announced It will invest two billion euros to build a factory for its new Trinity electric car near its headquarters in Wolfsburg.

Although German auto executives publicly welcome the Tesla challenge, privately many expect a tough battle. Tesla’s Model 3 was the most popular electric car model in Germany last year.

“I assume that in two or three years Tesla will be as big as BMW in Germany and will overtake Mercedes by 2025,” says Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, professor at the Center for Automotive Research in Duisburg.

Tesla is also well positioned to make the most of Europe’s push to accelerate its green transition thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “With geopolitical situations likely to lead to an even faster EV transition, Tesla is now poised to fill that gap,” said Matthias Schmidt, an industry analyst in Berlin.

But Tesla still faces a number of challenges. Some NGOs are still fiercely opposed and the company could face legal action over environmental concerns.

According to Tesla boss Elon Musk, the expansion of production will also take some time. “The hard part is getting to mass production,” he said during a factory visit in October.

Attracting labor poses another challenge – the plant needs 12,000 but only has 3,000 under contract.

Before Tesla can begin production, it must demonstrate that it has met all of the permit’s requirements, including installing equipment to measure air pollution and ensuring the factory has contingency plans in place. The carmaker said it would present the evidence within two weeks.

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