German authorities have granted Tesla conditional environmental approval to start production at Gigafactory Berlin, clearing the way for German-made Model 3s and Ys to start rolling off the line any day now. The plant has already assembled around 2,000 prototypes.
Nothing is ever settled in a democracy, especially a paperwork-loving one. Tesla has received a 536-page “conditional building permit,” which contains 400 conditions that Tesla needs to meet in order to start production (the application documents reportedly run to 23,700 pages in 66 files). The company says it expects to deal with all of the conditions within the next two weeks. There will also be a one-month public comment period in which interested parties can lodge objections, and a local environmental group is proceeding with a lawsuit over water usage, but neither of these issues are expected to delay the start of production.
It took a little over two years for construction of Gigafactory Berlin to be completed—record time for a major factory in Germany, if a little slow by Tesla time. The automaker plans to produce 500,000 vehicles per year at the plant, along with 50 GWh worth of battery cells.
Tesla has already hired about 3,000 workers at the site, and Tesla is in talks with numerous parts suppliers in the region. The company says the headcount will eventually reach around 12,000. Hundreds of jobs for engineers, equipment operators and managers are open.
Gigafactory Berlin is about 100 miles east of Wolfsburg, home base for the Volkswagen Group, Tesla’s biggest rival in Europe, and Herbert Diess and company are not looking on idly. VW has just announced plans to invest two billion euros in a new EV plant in Wolfsburg, which will be dedicated to the company’s new mass-market Trinity EV platform. Construction of the new factory will begin “as early as spring 2023,” and production is slated for 2026.