With German car makers on its heels and European groups planning massive battery factories themselves, Elon Musk, chief executive of US technology group Tesla, has indicated plans for a fourth gigawatt factory near Berlin.
The plant is slated to build batteries, power trains and e-vehicles, starting with Tesla’s Model Y, Musk said in a message on Twitter last night.
Neither Musk, nor Tesla, immediately provided further detail.
According to German tabloid BILD, the factory would be built near the still unfinished new Berlin airport that already is located in the nearby state of Brandenburg, adding that Tesla also plans to set up an engineering and design centre in the hip German capital.
“The decision by Tesla to build a highly modern factory for electric cars in Germany is further proof of the attractiveness of Germany as a location for car manufacturing!” German economics minister Peter Altmaier said.
“At the same time, it is a mile stone in the expansion of e-mobility and battery competence.”
Tesla’s apparent decision comes as domestic car makers such as Daimler, Volkswagen or BMW are investing billions in the development of a wide range of electronic models and large battery factories to fight off the competition by Tesla and Chinese firms.
Germany is lagging behind some European countries such as Norway or the Netherlands - and also China - in the penetration of e-mobility in new car sales, but the government in a recently published climate package has made e-mobility one of its focal points.
At the same time, Germany would need a much faster build-up of renewable energies to provide power for a rapidly-rising share of electronic cars on its roads. The government has raised its 2030 target for renewables in its power mix to 65%, but at the same time plans counter-productive measures such as a country-wide 1km distance rule between settlements and new wind farms.
Tesla’s planned Berlin plant would follow up on similar Tesla gigafactories in the US and China.
According to the UK’s AutoExpress newspaper, Berlin beat the UK as location in Europe, which was considered “too risky” by Musk because of uncertainties related to Brexit.