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This past Saturday, Tesla's Technoking Elon Musk hosted a massive party at the new Berlin Gigafactory, complete with bright lights, techno music, a Ferris wheel, carousel, arcade, and food trucks to announce the start of production at the disputed site, which has been the subject of environmental lawsuits.
Elon Musk took to the stage to give a speech and announce the factory's short term plans. “We’re aiming to start production in a few months, basically, November or December, and hopefully deliver our first cars in December. But starting production is kind of the easy part. The hard part is reaching volume production. Volume production amounts to 5,000 or hopefully 10,000 vehicles per week."
In addition to Model Y automobiles, the factory is scheduled to produce millions of battery cells. Tesla submitted plans to invest $5.8 billion in a 50 GWh battery plant next to the 300-hectare property, and Musk claimed that volume production of battery cells will begin by the end of the year. Volkswagen plans to build a facility in Salzgitter with a capacity of 40 GWh.
The big Gigafest had capacity for 9,000 people. Despite the fact that COVID-19 limitations limit big gatherings to 5,000 people, Tesla requested and gained permission to invite 9,000 people at Giga-Fest. According to the restrictions published on Tesla's Giga-Fest website, visitors needed to present proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR test within the last 48 hours.
The electric carmaker gave 9,000 festival tickets, with Brandenburg residents receiving first priority and eager fans including parents and children waited in line for a 90-minute site tour of the factory. And when Musk took the stage at sunset, fans erupted in applause and laughter, as if he were a popstar. Tesla fans felt it was certainly a very unique event and Tesla fever radiated beyond the German borders. A Tesla owner drove his EV from Milton Keynes, England, despite the fact that he did not have a ticket. He claimed that just seeing the place from the outside was worth it.
It has been a long and not so smooth ride for Musk to get his Berlin factory up and running. Despite opposition from locals who are holding up final clearance for the facility due to environmental concerns, construction on the Tesla Gigafactory in Berlin-Brandenburg, which was permitted two years ago by officials under an extraordinary procedure, is virtually complete. Musk's extravagant gathering appears to be a way to get locals excited and win them over.
In June, the Green League of Finland and the Brandenburg Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union filed a lawsuit seeking an urgent halt to machine testing in the factory's paint shop, foundry, and press shop, citing concerns about chemical leaks and other environmental harm. Work on the site was temporarily halted last year after NGOs sought an injunction to safeguard the natural habitat of endangered lizards and snakes in the area.
There have been several reports that local homeowners have registered over 800 concerns, which are being reviewed through an online residents' consultation procedure that is set to end on October 14. The environmental authorities will next make a final decision on whether or not to approve the project.
Despite the opposition, Brandenburg's economy minister believes Tesla has a 95 percent probability of getting factory clearance. Many political parties in Germany support the Tesla factory, which is now employing across Europe. It is seen as a big economic benefit for eastern Germany.
In response to critics, Musk said that the factory utilized "very little" water and that battery manufacture would be "sustainable."
The opening of Tesla Giga Berlin will be sure to bring many job opportunities to the region and could set to help inject Tesla into the European market.