Tesla and his pharaonic ambitions in Germany

Tesla inaugurated its “gigafactory” near Berlin on Tuesday. The establishment of the American electric car giant in the country that invented the combustion engine has profoundly upset German manufacturers.

When he visits his factory under construction, in the winter of 2021, Elon Musk explains to the amazement of his German public to have “have a camp bed installed” in the middle of the huge building under construction, to “soak up the atmosphere” places. The clash of cultures is visible in the eyes of his audience. But the bubbling entrepreneur of South African origin also had to adapt to old Europe. To slow administration “made in Germany”, to the proliferation of appeals from worried residents for the water reserves in their region and the determination of the unions to set foot in his factory. Elon Musk’s gigafactory – presented to everyone’s amazement in November 2019 – should have opened in the summer of 2021. The delay was ultimately only six months, thanks to another tour de force by Musk: upset in his plansthe Californian manager finally decided to start the construction work at his own risk, even before having obtained all the permits to build necessary. Unheard of in Germany, Musk will have obtained this year in the space of a few weeks all the necessary authorizations, completed the work and inaugurated in the presence of Chancellor Olaf Scholz the largest electric car factory in Europe, in Grünheide, 40 km east of Berlin.

Far from the historic sites of Stuttgart (Daimler), Munich (BMW), Ingolstadt (Audi) or Wolfsburg (VW), the Berlin region has no tradition in the automotive field. Musk set his sights on it in the fall of 2019 302 hectares of land in a pine forest. For Berlinan isolated town in the heart of a poor region far from the industrial fabric of the country, the ad is a godsend. The project is an accumulation of superlatives: 500,000 cars are to be produced there, initially the Model Y, then the 3. At maximum capacity, Tesla will be able to produce 10,000 cars per week. Ultimately, the production plant coupled with “the largest battery manufacturing plant in Europe” must hire 40,000 employees. Total cost of the works: 5.8 billion euros.

40,000

FUTURE EMPLOYEES

Ultimately, the production plant coupled with “the largest battery manufacturing plant in Europe” must hire 40,000 employees. Total cost of the works: 5.8 billion euros.

The project shakes up the German automotive industry. “It has done good for the whole sector,” says Frank Schwope, an automotive analyst at Nord LB (Norddeutsche Landesbank). “Since Musk’s announcement and the diesel crisis, German manufacturers have been chasing Tesla to try to catch up in the electric market.” True electroshock for the country that invented the combustion engine, Elon Musk chose the automotive nation to build his electric cars there, at the heart of the largest consumer market in Europe. Tesla’s competitors are closely monitoring the progress of the work. In a country with demography at half mast, the risk of a flight of part of their engineers is not negligible. Especially for Volkswagen. “A number of VW engineers, especially young people, could be tempted to join Tesla to live in the capital rather than in Wolfsburg,” said Frank Schwope.



A real shock for the country that invented the combustion engine, Elon Musk chose the nation of the automobile to build his electric cars there.

Many times, Herbert Diess, VW boss, cited the gigafactory as the reason for his group’s desire to accelerate the development of electric models. VW is currently planning near Wolfsburg its “Trinity-Projekt”, the group’s factory dedicated to electric mobility. According to calculations by Diess, it takes 10 hours for Tesla to build a car in Grünheide, compared to 30 hours for VW. very noticeable, Tesla’s “gigapress”the largest printing press in the world, which can melt 615 tons of aluminum per day at 700 degrees to form the two main body parts. Another specificity of the factory: it manufactures its own synthetic parts, its seats (60,000 parts per year) and even, in the future, its own batteries.

Germany attracts foreign investors

Tesla, Intel, Google, Stellantis, Meyer Burger… Germany is a safe bet for foreign industrial investors, whose investments doubled between 2019 and 2020, to reach 10.4 billion euros. And the trend is continuing, as shown by the case of Intel, which will set up its European semiconductor factory in Magdeburg, in the former GDR. 7,000 jobs are planned for the construction, 3,000 eventually for the operation of the plant.

In Thuringia and Saxony (again in the former GDR), the Chinese battery champions CATL and Svolt have started building new factories. While Google wants to host its cloud in Germany for an investment of one billion euros. In 2025, Stellantis wants to create 2,000 jobs near Kaiserslauten in the west of the country in its future battery factory. And in Bitterffeld, Saxony-Anhalt, the Swiss Meyer Burger will create 3,000 jobs in the production of solar panels.

Chinese, American and Swiss investors are particularly active in Germany, especially in the areas of IT and software. “Germany is the biggest economic power in Europe, has available talent, good-sized land and attractive financial incentives,” summarizes Germany Trade and Invest, the public company responsible for attracting foreign investors to the country.

The summary

  • Tesla inaugurated its “gigafactory” near Berlin on Tuesday.
  • At maximum capacity, Tesla will be able to produce 10,000 cars per week.
  • Ultimately, the production plant coupled with “the largest battery manufacturing plant in Europe” must hire 40,000 employees. Total cost of the works: 5.8 billion euros.
  • The project is an electroshock for the German automotive industry.

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