With the appearance of a big-wheel, music and CEO Elon Musk, Tesla is pulling all the ground on Saturday to beat opponents of the electric car maker’s controversial new “Gigafactory” near Berlin. Construction began two years ago under an exceptional procedure issued by the authorities, but due to environmental concerns the local people’s protest has received final approval for the plant.
Some locals are planning a protest at the site on the day of the event, which underscores their opposition to the factory.
Musk will personally land at the “Giga Fest”, where the company is placed on a large wheel, electronic music and vegetarian trucks – the event was conceived in the image of Berlin, the party capital of Europe.
The guest list announced by Tesla earlier this week is a priority for locals and thousands are expected to attend.
Devotees of the brand publicly shared their excitement on social media. “Gigafest Here we come. I was thrilled to see what they have built in my town,” one tweeted.
Opponents of the plan are planning another reception. “Let’s take to the streets against this environmental destruction by politicians” is the call of the protest organizers.
Tesla began construction on the site in Grunhide in 2019 after obtaining preliminary approval under a special procedure.
But even though all of the construction has been done, local officials are still in the process of assessing the factory’s environmental impact.
The special treatment provided to the company has angered some residents, who are concerned about the impact the plant will have on water supply and biodiversity.
Supported by voluntary charities, protesters sent letters, staged protests and approached the court to try to stop the project.
“Tesla should follow the same procedures as other companies,” the Green League campaign team said recently.
Last year, work at the Tesla site was suspended, prompting NGOs to issue orders to protect nearby natural habitats of endangered lizards and snakes while they are asleep.
Residents’ consultation, as part of the approval process, ends Oct. 14.
Until the survey is completed, final approval cannot be granted and the factory will not be allowed to start production.
Even then, the state Environment Ministry in Brandenburg, where the plant is located, told the AFP that “no date has been set” for this approval.
Despite local opposition, construction was completed in double quick time to replace the pine forest with a large concrete-laid extension accessible via the “Tesla Road”.
The size of economies
About 500,000 cars a year have to be rolled out from the line at the factory outside Berlin, Tesla’s first manufacturing facility in Europe.
On the same 300 hectares of land, Musk plans to build “the world’s largest battery factory.”
Ferdinand Dutenhofer, director of the Automotive Research Center in Germany, said the site boasts of being “the world’s largest die-casting machine”.
Personalized equipment should allow Tesla to “significantly reduce production costs,” Dutenhofer said.
If the factory is not approved, the car manufacturer will be forced to remove the entire work at its own expense.
However, Dutenhofer said such events were “impossible” because there was considerable “political support” for the plan.
“Every political party is in favor,” the car expert explained, while officials can demand changes to the factory facade, delaying the start of production.
Originally scheduled for July 2021, it was already launched later this year as a result of the company’s management problems.
Tesla was “annoyed” by these setbacks, writing in an open letter in March calling on the company to “reform” its planning procedures in Germany.
Despite the country’s reputation for efficiency, major infrastructure projects are being slowed down by excessive bureaucracy.
Berlin’s new international airport opened eight years later than originally planned in October 2020, while construction of a new railway station in Stuttgart began in 2010 and is not yet complete.