Tesla wins approval of Gigafactory Berlin expansion in Germany

Tesla wins approval of Gigafactory Berlin expansion in Germany

Tesla TSLA

Tesla has won approval for its expansion of Gigafactory Berlin, its production facility in Germany, after a meeting between community members and local officials was held on Thursday.

The meeting took place in the Hangelsberg district of Grünheid under police protection, as protests against the expansion have been going on since the weekend. Other opponents of the expansion have been living in the forest surrounding the factory in treehouses as a form of protest.

Community members expressed their potential concerns regarding the factory’s expansion at the Thursday meeting, but local officials chose to approve Tesla’s wishes.

Community Concerns

Several citizens expressed their worries about a larger footprint of the Tesla factory and said during the meeting on Thursday they did not agree with more manufacturing space and other elements that the automaker needed.

One said the plans were designed to make “an industrial giant feel at home” but expressed concerns about how local residents should feel, arguing they should also be comfortable. “We’re giving up a clean bill of health and any influence.” His concerns were met with applause from others.

Others argued the expansion violated Basic Law and human rights. “I can assure you that you will no longer have a good life here as a municipal representative if you agree today,” they said.

Talk of the Protests

Although protests have been ongoing and one of the most publicized pieces of the potential expansion, local officials were unwilling to comment. However, Mayor Arne Christiani said he was thankful to local firefighters and other emergency responders for keeping things moving.

Tesla’s Presentation at the Meeting

Tesla manager Riederer von Paar was on site to field questions from politicians and locals. One of which concerned built vehicle/inventory storage and future capacity plans if the expansion were approved. Additionally, von Paar talked about using the railway, which was one of the main pieces of the expansion, instead of typical on-road logistics.

“We could also handle a million vehicles by road; we want to do it by rail,” he said.

This work will be supplemented by 40,000 employees and potentially two million units of annual capacity in the future. Von Paar confirmed during the meeting that the current installed capacity still sits at half a million vehicles annually.

The Vote

There were 19 total people who were able to vote. When deciding which way to vote, they considered over 300 comments from local residents. There were two different votes: one for an Urban Development Contract and another for the Expansion itself.

11 of the 19 voted yes to the Urban Development Contract. Mayor Christiani voted in favor of the contract. The same number of the 19 also voted in support of Tesla’s expansion, with Mayor Christiani also giving his thumbs up.

Six voted against the expansion, with two abstaining.

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