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Tesla CEO attempts to calm locals' water worries over German factory

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Demonstrators hold anti-Tesla posters during a protest against plans by U.S. electric vehicle pioneer Tesla to build its first European factory and design center in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany January 18, 2020. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski
Demonstrators hold a poster reading "Tesla or Drinking Water" during a protest against Tesla's plans to build a factory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, on January 18, 2020. Photo: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk took to Twitter at the weekend to try and alleviate local people’s concerns that his planned new plant in the state of Brandenburg, Germany would damage the environment and use huge amounts of water.

“Tesla won’t use this much net water on a daily basis. It’s possibly a rare peak usage case, but not an everyday event,” Musk tweeted.

Elon Musk Twitter
Elon Musk Twitter

Musk’s announcement at the end of last year that he had picked the state surrounding Berlin as the location for his first European Gigafactory initially was met with euphoria, with politicians lauding the decision as a sign Germany was the most attractive country for carmakers.

However, residents in the village of Grünheide near the 741-acre (300 hectare) site have been demonstrating in recent weeks against the factory, which they fear will contaminate the local drinking water.

Some of them don’t want to see the forest chopped down for the plant either. Before the trees can be cleared, bomb disposal teams have been searching the area for unexploded bombs from the Second World War. Seven were detonated on Sunday, according to Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Tesla’s officially submitted its plans for the plant at the beginning of the year, which must be reviewed to assess the environmental impact of the new factory.

It will be situated in what is one of Germany’s poorest states, and is expected to create around 3,000 jobs initially, and some 8,000 once it is fully up-and-running.

Tesla’s planning documents revealed that it will manufacture the Model Y and Model 3 at the new factory, and is aiming to make 500,000 units annually at full capacity. Construction will begin in the middle of the year, and it aims to begin operations in July 2021.

READ MORE: Tesla plans to produce 500,000 cars a year in Germany

Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper reports that Tesla has applied for German government aid for battery cell research and production.

Tesla and the Economics Ministry refused to confirm whether the US electric car maker had applied for subsidies, however the German government has earmarked billions in aid as part of a EU-wide push to develop battery cell production capabilities in Europe, and challenge the dominance of Asian battery giants.