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Elon Musk says the first Berlin Tesla cars could arrive in early November

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The first cars to come out of Tesla’s new Berlin factory should roll off the production line early next month, CEO Elon Musk said Saturday at the plant’s site, but said volume production would take longer to achieve.

Musk expects to get a green signal in the coming weeks to begin production at the site. The latest consultation on the public’s concerns towards the site will close on 14 October, after which the environment ministry will make a decision.

“It’s good to start production, but volume production is the hard part,” Musk told enthusiastic audiences at a celebration at the plant site, many of whom livestreamed the speech on social media. It will take longer to reach production.”

He said volume production will amount to 5,000 or “hopefully 10,000” vehicles per day, and that the battery cells will be made in volume by the end of next year.

He defended the factory against critics of its environmental impact, saying it uses “relatively little” water and that battery cell production was “sustainable”.

Some local residents and environmental groups are unhappy with Musk’s approach, which they say is contrary to German business culture.

“I would tell them to stop making electrocars, but instead fly to Mars,” said Manu Hoyer, who led a small protest from locals who opposed the project on environmental grounds.

Brandenburg’s economy minister is expected to get approval to operate the factory at 95 percent.

Tesla has submitted plans to invest EUR 5 billion (about Rs 43,500 crore) in a 50GWh capacity battery plant next to the site, which will overtake Volkswagen’s planned 40GWh capacity site in Salzgitter.

Musk said Tesla was concerned that recruiting enough staff would be an issue, calling on people from “all over Europe” to apply.

He said he expects the battery plant to reach mass production by the end of next year.

popstar reception

The company offered 9,000 tickets for the festival, with preference given to residents of the state of Brandenburg.

“Look, Mom! A Tesla,” shouted an excited 9-year-old named Emil, one of several kids lined up with parents waiting for a 90-minute site tour.

When Musk took to the stage at sunset, fans erupted in joy and greeted him like a popstar.

“This day is unique,” said Tesla fan Fred Schroeder. “The Tesla factory in Germany will be opened to the public for the first time. It’s a very special day.”

Another drove his Tesla from Milton Keynes in the UK despite not having a ticket. He said it was worth it to see the site from the outside.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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