Tesla lays out steps to building Europe’s biggest car plant

Cam White | July 19, 2023

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By Victoria Waldersee

BERLIN (Reuters) -Tesla has requested approval from German local authorities to make sweeping changes to its factory near Berlin, a key next step in its ambitious plan to expand the site into Europe’s biggest car plant.

A day after Tesla sought to assuage local concerns with a question-and-answer session on the expansion, application documents published by the local environment ministry and water authority on Wednesday showed the long list of modifications Tesla plans to make at the plant.

Ultimately Tesla wants to double capacity to 1 million cars per year and 100 gigawatt hours of battery production at a plant that would make even more cars than produced by Volkswagen at its Wolfsburg headquarters.

Modifications outlined in the application, which are just the first of three stages of changes and include constructing a battery cell testing lab and extending water recycling, should become operational in the first half of 2024, according to the documents.

Changes also include extensions or changes to existing parts of the facility like the press shop and paint shop, as well as constructing new elements such as a material storage facility, the document said.

Tesla has faced considerable delays to its planned opening date for the plant due to a high number of objections filed by local citizens, mainly over environmental impact and water usage.

Locals have until mid-September to file objections to the latest proposals.

For the expansion, Tesla has committed to not using any additional water capacity, instead recycling the 1.4 million cubic metres of water it is licensed to use.

When up to speed the plant would have a greater output than Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant, which would trail behind at a capacity of 800,000 vehicles and output of just 400,000 last year.

Tesla currently produces around 5,000 cars a week in Grunheide and has not provided a timeline for ramping up output.

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Editing by Friederike Heine and David Holmes)