GRUENHEIDE, Germany, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The first cars to
emerge from Tesla's new Berlin factory should roll off the
production line as early as next month, CEO Elon Musk said at
the site of the plant on Saturday, but added that volume
production would take much longer to achieve.
Musk hopes to get the green light in coming weeks to start
production at the site. The latest consultation on public
concerns towards the site closes on Oct. 14, after which the
Environment Ministry will make a decision.
"Starting production is nice, but volume production is the
hard part," Musk told a cheering audience at a festival at the
plant site, many of whom livestreamed the speech on social
media. "It will take longer to reach volume production than it
took to build the factory."
He said volume production would amount to 5,000 or
"hopefully 10,000" vehicles per week, and battery cells would be
made there in volume by the end of next year.
He also defended the factory against critics of its
environmental impact, saying that it used "relatively little"
water and that battery cell production was "sustainable."
Some local residents and environmental groups are unhappy https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/teslas-gigafactory-electrifies-california-germany-culture-clash-2021-10-07
with Musk's approach, which they say flies in the face of
German business culture.
"I would tell him to stop building electrocars but rather
fly to Mars," said Manu Hoyer, who led a small protest of locals
who oppose the project on environmental grounds, saying it will
pollute drinking water.
Brandenburg's economy minister has put the chances of the
factory gaining approval to operate at 95%.
Tesla has submitted plans to invest 5 billion euros ($5.8
billion) in a battery plant with 50 GWh capacity next to the
site, outstripping Volkswagen's planned 40GWh
capacity site in Salzgitter.
Musk said Tesla was worried that recruiting sufficient staff
would be an issue, calling for people to apply from "all over
He said he hoped the battery plant would reach volume
production by the end of next year.
POP STAR RECEPTION
The company offered 9,000 tickets to the festival, with
residents of Brandenburg state given priority.
"Look, Mummy! A Tesla," shouted an excited 9-year old called
Emil, one of many children lined up with parents waiting for a
90-minute site tour.
Fans cheered and laughed when Musk took the stage at sunset,
welcoming him like a pop star.
"This day is unique," said Tesla fan Fred Schroeder. "The
Tesla factory in Germany will be opened to the public for the
first time. That is a very special day."
Another had driven his Tesla from Milton Keynes in Britain,
despite not having a ticket. He said it was worth it just to see
the site from the outside.
($1 = 0.8649 euros)
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Thomas Escritt
Editing by Nick Zieminski, Jane Merriman and Frances Kerry)