Musk Sees Output in Germany Starting This Year Amid Delays
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk plans for Tesla Inc.’s electric-car plant near Berlin to start producing vehicles as early as next month even as the U.S. company still awaits final approval for the project that’s been delayed by legal challenges.
The factory is to begin making Model Y cars in November or December, Musk said Saturday during a visit to the site in Gruenheide, where Tesla hosted thousands of locals at an Oktoberfest-style county fair. The plant will probably source batteries from Tesla’s facilities in China until a cell factory in Germany is completed, he said.
“The start of production is nice but volume production is the hard part,” Musk said, adding that Tesla targets making between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles a week at Gruenheide by the end of next year. “We are going to need a lot of talented, hardworking people to get there.”
While his visit marks the factory’s final stretch of construction, Tesla is still awaiting final approval for the project that underpins its European expansion plans just as Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG broaden their EV lineups. For Germany, the plant promises new jobs in a region that lost most of its heavy industry during World War II.
Progress at Gruenheide has been less smooth than hoped, with Tesla facing lawsuits from environmental groups concerned about water use and wildlife, and the plant has been delayed by several months. Tesla eventually plans to make as many as 500,000 vehicles at the factory, alongside production of battery cells.
Locals have filed more than 800 complaints that are currently being discussed via an online consultation process that’s to last until Oct. 14. The region’s environmental authorities have vowed to make a decision on final approval only after that process ends.
The mood was festive on Saturday, with photos posted on social media showing visitors lining up for Model Y test rides, a ferris wheel and tours of the factory’s interior. In a nod to some of the environmental opposition, Musk said Tesla will plant more trees than it has cut down and make sure the factory uses as little water as possible.
Musk said he aims to introduce more Tesla products in Europe next year, including its solar roof and its so-called Full Self-Driving system.
“It’s looking highly likely to be in Europe next year,” he said of FSD.
Tesla has said that while FSD is designed to someday handle trips without driver intervention, it’s not yet capable of rendering Tesla cars autonomous.
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