Elon Musk says Tesla’s “Gigafactory” outside Berlin will start pumping out electric cars as soon as November — even though the company has still not secured final approval from German authorities.
The factory is set to start making Tesla Model Y SUVs in November or December, Musk said on Saturday, according to Bloomberg.
But Tesla is still battling legal opposition and protests from environmental groups and some locals, who argue that the factory will disrupt natural habitats for endangered animals and degrade the local water supply.
In order for Tesla to legally open the factory, the company needs to receive official approval from the environmental ministry in Brandenburg, the state where the plant is located, AFP reported.
A legal review process involving local residents is set to conclude on Thursday — but even then, the environment ministry has not provided a date for a final decision, according to the outlet.
In an apparent plan to woo residents of Grünheide, the Berlin suburb where the factory is located, Musk flew into town for a fair over the weekend featuring electronic music, a ferris wheel and vegetarian food trucks.
Tesla also offered 9,000 locals tours of the factory and gave free rides in Teslas, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
If the factory gets approval to open, Tesla says it will eventually pump out 5,000 to 10,000 vehicles per week.
The case of the German factory is not the first time Musk has clashed with government regulators. In 2020, he clashed with California authorities over coronavirus restrictions at a Tesla plant in the state, calling lockdowns “fascist” and threatening to move Tesla’s headquarters to Texas.
Musk made it official this Thursday, revealing that Tesla would move its headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin. The company is also working on a gigafactory outside Austin.