Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin Is Fully Operational, and a Little Controversial

With just-produced Model Ys rolling out under a lighted “Tesla” archway, Elon Musk and Tesla finally checked off another victory: the opening of Gigafactory Berlin after a number of delays and challenges.

According to the BBC, Elon Musk was celebrating the opening of Gigafactory Berlin with a bit of dancing, fireworks, and saying “This is a great day for the factory”—and for Earth as it’s “another step in the direction of a sustainable future.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz echoed this statement and added that it was a positive step for the auto industry in Germany. As both were speaking, about 30 brand new Model Y Performance EVs rolled out as the first vehicles made at the new plant.

The Production Plan

That number will pale in comparison to the planned output of 500,000 cars annually from the plant, but Musk warned that this will take a few years to reach. For the first few weeks of production, Tesla expects about 2,000 cars to be assembled before ramping up to 1,000 cars per week after six weeks then 5,000 per week by the end of 2022. However, knowing Tesla and Musk, we’ll have to wait and see as many expect these targets to slide a bit.

A Coal Town And Environmentalists

Gigafactory Berlin is located in Grünheide, a town best known for producing coal in Brandenburg, Germany and not far from its capital. You’d think that a plant that is capable of producing 50 gigawatt hours of power to reduce the need for that coal would be seen as a boon for environmentalists. Unfortunately, you’d be mistaken as there were other concerns for them and the local council that caused its eight month delay. The first issue was Tesla cutting down too many trees to clear land for the Gigafactory’s footprint.

Once that was solved, the main issue was now water use by Gigafactory Berlin. While Tesla argued it would use less than 2,000 liters of water per car produced, protesters countered that argument in court. While the protesters technically won their argument on March 4, 2022 (that the Grünheide council didn’t do a thorough enough assessment), neither the court’s ruling nor a protest on the Gigafactory Berlin grounds were enough to stop the Tesla plant from opening on March 22, 2022.

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