Elon Musk says “Our fight will continue”

Elon Musk says “Our fight will continue”

Elon Musk dad-danced on the production line as the first Model Y cars from Tesla’s Berlin “gigafactory” were delivered to customers in March 2022.

“This is a great day for the factory,” Musk said, showing off his moves to throngs of fans as he boasted that the launch was “another step in the direction of a sustainable future”.

Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, said it showed that the east of the country was at the “forefront of industry”.

The dancing may have been ill-advised.

A few days later, Musk was reportedly denied entry to Berghain, the techno mecca that is a fixture of Berlin’s clubbing scene – although the billionaire later said he had refused to go in.

It would not be Musk’s last cold shoulder in Germany.

Almost two years after its Berlin gigafactory opened its doors, Tesla is facing growing opposition in the country.

Protesters have camped out in the local woods bordering the manufacturing plant, erecting makeshift treehouses and field kitchens as they settle in for the long haul. On Saturday, supporters held a piano concert and handed out cake.

Residents in the municipality of Grünheide, where the factory is located, have voted against Tesla’s plan to expand the plant. Last week, a local utility claimed the operations were polluting supplies of drinking water.

“Tesla brought a lot of noise and air pollution in the region because of all the trucks that drive every day over the streets,” says Lou Winters from the group Tesla den Hahn abdrehen, which translates to “Turn off Tesla’s tap”.

“I talk to people who moved some years ago to Grünheide for the fresh air, for the calmness. Now almost nothing is left of this. For the first time in the history of the factory, the people of the region had the chance to say whether they wanted the expansion or not.”

Musk, the world’s richest man and an ardent capitalist, is increasingly butting heads with Europe’s more collectivist tendencies.

As well as a row over his German plant, he has faced union rebellions in Scandinavia and a potential privacy investigation in the Netherlands, as well as looming tensions with Brussels over car imports.

It comes as EU governments are desperate for their domestic manufacturers to catch up with Tesla’s electric car leadership.

Two years ago, it seemed Musk’s force of will had broken through German bureaucracy.

Tesla’s boss announced in late 2019 that he planned to build Tesla’s third gigafactory – after plants in California and Shanghai – on the outskirts of Berlin.

It took just 861 days from that announcement for the first cars to roll off the line, supersonic by the standards of Germany’s planning and permissions regimes.

Matthias Schmidt, an independent European auto industry analyst, says Tesla managed to charm local politicians in Brandenburg, the former East German state that borders Berlin and is one of the country’s poorest regions.

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