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Tesla hopes to double the size of its Berlin Gigafactory

When Tesla built its Gigafactory 4 in Grünheide, Germany, near Berlin, it was a shot across the bow (or a “wake-up call,” or a “poke in the eye”—pick your favorite metaphor) to German automakers, who have since fallen far behind in the EV race (Model Y was the best-selling car in Europe in the first half of this year).

Now Tesla wants to double the production capacity of the Berlin Gig, to one million vehicles per year, which would make it the largest auto plant in Europe, eclipsing Volkswagen’s factory in Wolfsburg, which was built in the 1930s and currently produces some 815,000 cars per year.

Since March 2022, Tesla’s German Gig has been producing about 5,000 Model Ys per week—roughly half the plant’s current capacity.

According to a multi-thousand-page proposal that Tesla recently made public, the company wants to add capacity to build other unspecified models, and to double its production of battery cells to a storage capacity of 100 GWh per year.

From the beginning, Tesla has faced resistance from local residents, who are concerned about the factory’s use of groundwater, among other issues. The company’s expansion proposal includes the construction of a water treatment facility that would allow the factory to recycle water.

Under local law, residents have one month to examine Tesla’s proposal and submit any concerns to authorities. A public hearing will be held in October.

Tesla held a meeting with residents last week, at which the company promised to increase the number of employees from 10,000 to 22,500. The New York Times reports that there are already “dozens of jobs” advertised on the company’s web site.

Dirk Schulze, Regional Head of the local IG Metall labor union, sounded ambivalent about the proposed expansion. “Despite high levels of sick leave, staff are being cut on a significant scale,” he told the Times. “But production targets are not being adjusted downward, so pressure on the remaining colleagues is increasing.”

Source: New York Times

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