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Construction of Tesla’s (TSLA) new Gigafactory electric car plant in Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin, has been powering ahead since February this year. The sheer speed and scale of the project sends a positive signal about Germany as a place to get large projects done, according to the government’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) commissioner Thomas Bareiß.
In an interview with the Handelsblatt business daily, Bareiß described the Tesla plant as a role model for other large-scale construction projects in Germany.
“Tesla is showing what is possible, when political will and efficient, fast administrative and court processes unite in implementation in business and industry,” Bareiß told Handelsblatt.
The electric car maker is still awaiting its final building permit and environmental approval due by November. It plans to roll the first vehicles, the Model Y, off the line by summer next year, targeting an eventual production volume of half a million units per year at full capacity, and employing around 10,000 staff. The company also plans to eventually to produce battery cells at the German site.
The factory site has attracted protestors, mainly locals, who are worried about the amount of water the plant will use, as well as environmental damage to the rural area.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk attempted to allay these fears on Twitter at the beginning of the year, saying “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.”
Bareiß said that if Tesla gets its final permit in November, the project timing will be “more than a record” in Germany.
Germany, with its powerful industrial and engineering sectors, is not known for the ease or efficiency of getting large-scale projects off the ground, especially in terms of the laborious bureaucratic hurdles involved. This is something the government is keen to change in order to make the country an attractive location for investors.
Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, head of the CAR Centre for Automotive Research Institute, described the Tesla factory as a “blessing” for Germany, telling the newspaper that it will also benefit German suppliers. He said Elon Musk was “no ordinary person, but a dynamic package.”