“Giga factory” in the Märkischen Sand

Grünheide (dpa) – Suddenly the gray colossus shimmers through the trees on the highway, inconspicuous in steel and exposed aggregate concrete, but gigantic. When Elon Musk announced the first European Tesla factory near Berlin almost two years ago, there were at best pine trees in the sand of the Brandenburg region.

Now the gigafactory of the American tech pioneer and Tesla boss is a reality. The first e-cars should roll off the assembly line here in a few weeks. A hussar piece in a country where it often takes six years to even build a wind turbine.

On Saturday, Musk wants to attend a community festival with up to 9000 visitors Have a party on the company premises in Grünheide. The eccentric billionaire managed to stir up the European car market with the project. VW boss Herbert Diess explicitly referred to the competition with Tesla at the beginning of October when he wrote on Twitter: “We are ready!” Tesla reports stock market, sales and sales records. And Musk has delighted politicians in Brandenburg and in the federal government. For the region, the car factory may be one day in the future 40. 000 Jobs « Lottery win ”, thinks Grünheide’s mayor Arne Christiani (independent).

Critics complain about the legal“ gray area ”

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the industrial building at the gates of Berlin. Steffen Schorcht from the Grünheide citizens’ initiative looks worriedly from a nearby bridge at the huge construction site, where next to the almost finished main building a bare skeleton juts out into the gray October sky. That will be the battery factory next to the car factory. Like other critics, Schorcht warns of environmental damage.

Not only 90 hectares of pine forest were cleared for the new production facilities. Some of the buildings are also being built in the water protection area, and Schorcht fears both pollution and excessive water consumption in the factory. After all, Tesla wants to build around 500. 000 cars per year in Grünheide soon, starting with the Model Y Possible incidents, delivery traffic, commuters, air pollution – all of this gives critics headaches.

The opponents are particularly annoyed by the company’s approach – this speed, which is so unusual for major projects in Germany. Musk was still going far too slowly, he kept pushing and complaining about the length of the approval process. But he could still build. Because there had been a development plan for the site for around 20 years, drawn up for BMW before the German company decided against the location. And the authorities issued so-called early approvals for Tesla, which are possible in the event of a positive forecast for a project, although the environmental assessment is still ongoing.

All lawsuits came to nothing

The final approval for the entire project is still missing, until mid-October a new discussion of hundreds of objections will take place. The client runs the risk of having to dismantle everything if the authorities say no. But Tesla has “already built a high three-digit million amount,” says Schorcht. “Who wants to say here that it will be dismantled?” The criticism is that facts have been created here in a “legal gray area”. “The work is done,” says Michael Ganschow of the Brandenburg Green League. All previous lawsuits came to nothing.

Supporters and critics alike expect the green light to be given soon. Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) says in an interview with the German Press Agency: “If the hearing goes well and the objections that have come up are processed well, I think it is possible that the decision on approval will still be made will come this year. “

More than a billion euros from the state?

Woidke is a fan of the project, which, in his opinion,” has led to worldwide attention for Brandenburg leads ». The state has already promised 120 million euros in funding for the battery factory. In addition, there are funds from a European joint project. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, the decision should be issued before the end of the year. The ministry has not yet said anything about the scope. According to a report by the “Tagesspiegel”, Tesla has a prospect of government funding totaling around 1.1 billion euros.

Tesla originally estimated the construction costs in Grünheide to be around 1.1 billion euros. Musk said last year that the budget would be exceeded. How much money has flowed up to now, how many people are building in Grünheide and how many have been employed for production is not easy for the company to find out. There were initially no answers to questions from the dpa.

Musk is more on the big messages. His e-car company is now worth 780 billions of dollars on the stock market, a multiple of its traditional competitors. In the third quarter he brought good 241. 000 vehicles to customers worldwide, half more than one Year before. The fact that cars are to be produced in Grünheide 500. shows Musk’s ambition.

On the Tesla website, happy-looking people with safety glasses smile when asked to apply: “The Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg will be the most advanced series production facility for electric vehicles in the world.” “World-class vehicles” would be created here. It doesn’t say much more.

“Grünheide doesn’t want to be a second Wolfsburg”

Grünheide’s mayor Christiani assumes 3000 employees at the start of production and 12. 000 at full load of the systems that are now under construction . 40. 000 it could become one with further expansion stages, so it is officially in the Zoning plan. 40 000 Employee in a small town of currently 9000 residents – where do you get them and where do you put them? Isn’t this project like an economic meteorite impact for a community in an idyllic landscape between lakes and forests and a touch of leisurelyness at the gates of the capital?

He sees that « relatively relaxed, ”says Christiani in his office on the third floor of the town hall. According to studies, 51 percent of the required employees would come from Berlin, another 35 percent from Brandenburg, eight percent from Poland, the rest are «onward commuters». His community only has a limited area and in the extreme case it could grow by 3000 residents. “Grünheide cannot and does not want to be a second Wolfsburg,” says the non-party mayor, who has been in office since 2003.

He still sees the golden age for Grünheide. The first improvement: the train to Berlin now runs every half hour. Then he talks about the job opportunities for young adults, the prospects for families, the prospect of offspring for the voluntary fire brigade, the planned rescue center, the attraction for further investors, the planned university. And then of course the trade tax. Grünheide, says Christiani, “will one day be one of the richest communities in the state of Brandenburg, I assume that”.

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