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Tesla's Texas Gigafactory, known as Giga Austin, isn't complete yet but there has been notable progress. The US electric vehicle manufacturer has started casting Model Y parts at its nearly finished production plant and a full Model Y body shell was spotted on site.
Joe Tegtmeyer is an avid fan of Tesla and posted an update of his drone footage filmed on Monday this week. This is positive news for the EV giant, and production may look to be starting sooner rather than later. What we can glean so far is that the Texas factory can do Model Y mega-castings even if it was part of a testing process.
Joe’s comments said that the "Model Y bare body spotted inside the General Assembly building … this is likely a test body used to ensure proper installation, testing and calibration of the General Assembly conveyor line, machines and robotic assemblers."
Image Credit: Joe Tegtmeyer
The Tesla fan also noted that his footage indicates about half the factory is done although Tesla is known for get the ball rolling before the whole factory is fully finished. Tesla probably only needs one big section to be done to start churning out vehicles.
While the news from Texas is getting Tesla lovers excited, unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Giga Berlin.
In the latest SEC filing for the first quarter, Tesla indicated the plant in Germany is flagged for a “late 2021” start in terms of both production and delivery. The plant construction of the next Gigafactory was first announced late in 2019.
Initially, Tesla’s permit application had forecast that production would be starting in July 2021, which was ambitious considering Giga Texas was also on the go and fortunately for the state side factory, it seems on track to open this year.
However, in Germany, things are not looking so good. Part of the problem is the bureaucratic approval process. Tesla filed a change to its permit application earlier this month to include the construction of a battery cell production line in the German facility. The planned 100-Gigawatt hours of annual output would be enough to power at least one million electric vehicles. But this week, the government of Brandenburg said the changes requested by Tesla were enough to warrant the involvement of the public. This is not great news because it will be a drawn-out process that could last until mid-August. Once that process is done, only then can authorities return to assess the revised plans.
Image Credit: Tesla (Winter at Giga Berlin, Feb 2021)
“Tesla is not allowed to start the production of saleable cars before the final permit is issued. This is definitely a red line for us, but we’re trying to speed up everything,” said Jörg Steinbach, Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor and Energy. Add to that, the potential risk to production is the issue of Tesla's notorious opposition to trade unions.
In February, Musk told Fortune Magazine that he would be “doing something wrong” if employees organising a works council at the plant felt it necessary to join Germany's dominant industrial trade union, IG Metall.
Last year in June, IG Metall accused Tesla of establishing a manufacturing company under European rather than German law to circumvent participation of labor leaders at a boardroom level. Steinbach stepped in and said he would play an active role in brokering talks between the two sides, but he expected Tesla would respect the corporate culture in Germany, which includes an influential and legally protected role for unions.
“The responses that I received so far is all rules and regulations in terms of workers’ representation will be observed and not questioned by the Tesla people in Brandenburg,” Jörg added.
Elon will have to ride the wave and let the red tape run its course and surely by end of the year, we’ll start seeing some momentum back in Berlin.