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Brandenburg happy to get Gigafactory

Hardy Graupner
November 13, 2019

Tesla's decision to build a Gigafactory in the Eastern German state of Brandenburg surrounding Berlin has been met with unconditional approval by people living there. They're already dreaming about thousands of jobs.

People gather round a Tesla vehicle in Lausitz
Image: DW/H. Graupner

For most people in the Eastern German state of Brandenburg, the news about Elon Musk and Tesla willing to build a car factory in their backyard came as a big surprise. Musk had said Tuesday night that his company planned the new facility "near the new [Berlin-Brandenburg] airport," and that Tesla would also set up a design center in the area.

For the electric carmaker, "Giga Berlin-Brandenburg" first and foremost means the continuation of its global expansion policy, with media reports indicating that the production of batteries, powertrains and vehicles at the new facility could start as early as 2021.

For the region of Brandenburg and Berlin, which has been eager to attract more industry, the factory is a beacon of hope.

'Christmas ahead of time'

Carsten Brönstrup is a spokesman for uvb, an association representing the interests of a large number of companies in Berlin and Brandenburg. He told DW on Wednesday that Elon Musk's announcement was a big thing.

"It's magnificent; it's like Christmas coming early for our region," Brönstrup argued. "The region is not particularly known for its strong industry, so getting a Gigafactory will push future-oriented technologies such as battery production and autonomous driving," he added.

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Brönstrup said residents would still have to wait for further details concerning the size of the factory in question. "But if you look at other Tesla sites, we may be talking about thousands of new jobs for our region if the plan materializes."

Media reports speculated that German carmakers such as BMW might not be amused by Tesla's decision to build a factory in their backyard. But Brönstrup argued that competition was good for the market and consumers, adding that "German automakers will be able to stand their ground by focusing on their own technological advances."

Incidentally, another part of Brandenburg — an open-cast coal mining area called Lusatia — had long called on Elon Musk to locate a Gigafactory there, drawing hundreds of thousands of local supporters.

Many locals to benefit

Jens Taschenberger had been one of the driving forces behind that #WelcomeTesla grassroots movement of private individuals and small- and medium-sized companies. He told DW on Wednesday that disappointment about not getting the factory was almost nonexistent as its actual location would not be far away in the same state.

"People in our region stand to profit from the Tesla plant, too, logistically, we'll be there faster than most Berliners," he noted.

I'm really glad for Brandenburg," Taschenberger said. "Let's be honest, who would have thought that Eastern Germany would make the running, given the applicants in the Western states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and elsewhere."

"It's an important signal for the region, with people here saying we really want more industry, we're ready for it," he concluded.

Brandenburg's premier, Dietmar Woidke, couldn't agree more. He told public broadcaster rbb on Wednesday that Musk's decision "is really good news for us, adding that "the regional government had long tried to convince Tesla that Brandenburg is the place to go."

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