With a ferris wheel, music, and CEO Elon Musk’s performance, Tesla did everything on Saturday to beat opponents of the electric carmaker’s controversial new “Gigafactory” near Berlin. Construction began two years ago following exclusive procedures by the authorities, but the project received final approval due to opposition from local residents over environmental concerns.
Several locals planned a counter protest on the day of the event to emphasize their opposition to the factory.
Musk will personally land at the Giga Fest, where the company has installed big bikes, electronic music and trucks for vegetarian meals – an event that resembles Berlin, Europe’s party capital.
Thousands of people are expected as locals prefer the guest list announced by Tesla earlier this week.
Fans of the brand shared their enthusiasm on social media the day before. “We came to Gigafest. I’m happy to see what they have built in my village,” one wrote on Twitter.
Opponents of the project accept a different form of assumption. “Let’s take to the streets against the environmental destruction this politics has caused,” shouted protest organizers.
Concern for the environment
Tesla began construction on the Grünheide site in 2019, having previously received approval in a special process.
But even after the construction work is complete, the local government is in the process of assessing the plant’s impact on the environment.
The company’s special treatment has angered some local residents who are concerned about the facility’s impact on water supplies and biodiversity.
With the support of NGOs, the demonstrators sent letters, protested and tried to stop the project in court.
“Tesla has to follow the same procedures as any other company,” the Green League group said recently.
Work on the Tesla site was halted last year when NGOs called for orders to protect nearby natural habitats for endangered species of lizards and snakes during their hibernation.
The citizen council, part of the approval process, is due to expire on October 14.
Until the investigation is complete, no final approval can be given and production at the factory cannot begin.
The Brandenburg state environment ministry, where the plant is located, told AFP that “no date has yet been set for this permit”.
Despite local opposition, construction was completed in twice the time, replacing a large area of pine forest with a large concrete extension introduced from Tesla Road.
Economical at scale
The plant outside Berlin, Tesla’s first production facility in Europe, has to recall about 500,000 cars each year.
Musk plans to build “the world’s largest battery factory” on the same 300 acres.
Ferdinand Dudenhofer, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Germany, said the site would boast of being the “largest die-casting machine in the world”.
The tailor-made equipment should allow Tesla to “significantly reduce manufacturing costs,” Dudenhofer said.
If the factory is not released, the car manufacturer is forced to stop all work at its own expense.
Dudenhofer said it was “impossible” to turn a blind eye to such incidents because the project had “political support” from many countries.
“Every political party is cheap,” the auto expert said, adding that authorities could request changes to the factory’s facade, which slows production.
Originally planned for July 2021, the company was postponed at the beginning of the year due to administrative problems.
Tesla was “furious” by the turbulence, as he wrote in an open letter in March asking the company to “step up” the planning process in Germany.
Despite the country’s reputation for efficiency, large bureaucracies hold back large infrastructure projects.
The new Berlin International Airport opened eight years later than planned in October 2020, while construction of a new railway station in Stuttgart was not completed but began in 2010.