Tesla Opens First European Gigafactory

Tesla celebrated the long delayed opening of its German Gigafactory by handing over the keys of the plant’s first cars to customers.

Reuters reports that its boss, Elon Musk, presided over the delivery of Tesla’s first German-made cars to clients at the carmaker’s $5.5Bn Gruenheide plant marking the start of its first European hub and the biggest investment in Germany’s car industry in recent history.

The 30 csutomers and their families received their Model Y vehicles on-site during a glitzy, neon-lit Tesla branded exit, crowding around as Musk arrived.

Also attending Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised the pl as a sign of progress and the future of the car industry. However, environmental groups gathered to protest outside the plant on with banners, pots and pans to express their concerns, ranging from the plant’s high water use to the trees felled to build it.

Musk had hoped to begin output from the factory eight months ago but local authorities said it had still been completed relatively swiftly despite licensing delays. Tesla received the final go-ahead from local authorities to begin production at the beginning of March, provided it met several conditions, covering issues such as water use and air pollution control. The licensing delay meant Tesla had to service earlier European orders from its Shanghai factory, driving up costs.

“This is a great day for the factory,” Musk said, describing it as “another step in the direction of a sustainable future”.

The chosen Tesla clients will receive the Model Y Performance configuration, a vehicle costing $70,491.38 with 320 miles range, the company said, adding that new orders from the plant could be delivered from April.

At full capacity, the plant will produce 500,000 cars a year, more than the BEVs that German rival Volkswagen sold globally in 2021. It will also generate 50 gigawatt hours of battery power, surpassing all other plants Germany.

Currently, Volkswagen remains the market leader in Europe with a 25% market share compared to Tesla’s 13%. Musk has said ramping up production would take longer than the two years it took to build the plant.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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