Elon Musk officially opened Tesla’s new German factory outside Berlin on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck.
The first electric vehicles produced at Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, located in the town of Grünheide just east of the German capital were handed over to customers.
Elon Musk: Another step towards a “sustainable future”
“This is a great day for the factory,” Musk said, hailing it as another step towards a “sustainable future.”
Musk was seen dancing as he presided over the delivery of Tesla’s first German-made cars to 30 clients and their families at the carmaker’s 5 billion euro ($5.5 billion) plant.
— Daniel Orton (@MisterOrton) March 22, 2022
Chancellor Scholz also praised the plant as proof of eastern Germany’s industrial prestige. “The east is at the forefront of industry,” he said at the opening.
Tesla ran into multiple hurdles since Elon Musk announced plans to construct the car and battery factory in November 2019, and the opening was delayed. However, Tesla was granted final approval for the factory on March 4.
— Tesla Silicon Valley Club (@teslaownersSV) March 22, 2022
First Tesla “Model Y” vehicles were handed over to customers
On Tuesday, the first “Model Y” vehicles were handed over to customers during the opening ceremony. The Model Y vehicles for Europe had been previously imported from Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai.
Tesla had hoped that it could roll out cars last summer, but environmental concerns, especially about wastewater treatment at its battery factory, were some of the factors that delayed plans. In late 2021, health and environment authorities in the state of Brandenburg had allowed Tesla to expand testing of cars, but not to sell them.
Now that the factory is open, Tesla hopes to produce about 30,000 vehicles in the first six months, with a goal of pumping out nearly 500,000 cars per year going forward.
Full production at the Berlin Gigafactory opens a new chapter in the global race to dominate the electric car market, as competition moves to the manufacturing heart of Europe.
Giga Berlin is currently Tesla’s only manufacturing plant in Europe.
Elon Musk’s Tesla backs out of state aid for factory
Tesla had announced in November 2021 that it backed out of its attempt to get state aid for the factory in Berlin. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said that the move is part of the corporation’s larger turn away from government subsidies.
The European Union gave Tesla the green light in January, approving the electric car company’s proposals for state aid, as well as BMW and fellow companies interested in producing electric car batteries.
The bloc had planned to give Tesla 1.14 billion euros ($1.28 billion) to launch its plant in Berlin.