As a last round of discussions related to objections by locals to Tesla’s factory near Berlin ended Monday, the only thing the US carmaker still needs is a final operating permit from regional authorities.
Ever since Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the building of the carmaker’s fourth “gigafactory” near Berlin toward the end of 2019, his plans have been viewed by many as a declaration of war against Germany’s top three auto manufacturing groups — Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler with its Mercedes brand.
Apart from planting top-notch electric vehicle know-how in the heart of Europe’s carmaking industry, Tesla has also aspired to show the local competition that a huge plant could be built in record time.
Tesla says it’s only Germany’s red tape that has kept Giga Berlin from opening. The company had to delay the start of its Model Y production there one more time after the state environment office in Brandenburg allowed a redo of an online discussion for locals who object to the huge plant in their neighborhood.
Tesla has almost completed its factory on the basis of a string of preliminary authorizations, but it still lacks a final operating permit from regional environmental authorities.
So far, the Brandenburg agencies have not released details on how long it may take to evaluate objections raised by local residents and issue final approval (or rejection, which is largely considered to be highly unlikely). Experts believe, however, that the plant could start operating as soon as December, or early January at the latest.
At a recent “county fair” that Tesla organized for the circa 9,000 local residents, the carmaker allowed a sneak peek of its production facility. It was also meant to win over skeptics of the project. While visitors reported they were deeply impressed by the top-notch technology on display inside Giga Berlin, environmental concerns persist.
In what is Tesla’s first “gigafactory” in Europe, the US firm wants to eventually produce half a million fully electric cars per year, thus topping the combined output of electric vehicles from all German manufacturers. The company has said it will employ up to 12,000 people — but it’s not expected that many will be hired from locations near the plant.