Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Electric vehicle maker Tesla celebrated its first German-made cars as they rolled off the production lines on Tuesday, with company founder Elon Musk presiding as the initial 30 clients received keys to their new vehicles.
“This is a great day for the factory”, he declared, “another step in the direction of a sustainable future.” Also attending the launch were Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, as well as the Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister, Robert Habeck.
Speaking at the milestone event, Habeck called it a “special day for the region, and a special day for the mobility revolution in Germany.” Chancellor Scholz said that the plant, located just east of the capital Berlin in what was once East Germany, testified to the region’s industrial prestige in modern times. “The east is at the forefront of industry”, Scholz proclaimed.
In marked contrast to the day’s festivities, Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in Grünheide has been beset by numerous problems since its inception in 2019, back when Musk first announced plans to make the site the centrepiece of the company’s European expansion plans.
Site construction began in May 2020, despite having only provisional permits and lacking the guarantees that it would be granted the final go-ahead required so that it could begin production. It subsequently had to overcome various environmental and regulatory hurdles, before ultimately receiving the regulatory green light on 3 March this year.
While Musk complained about the snail’s pace of the approval procedures, attributing the construction delays to German red tape, many environmental groups argued that the project had advanced at “lightning speed”, leaving many of their environmental concerns, such as fears of excessive water consumption at the plant, unaddressed.