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Olaf Scholz backs Tesla Germany expansion despite protests

March 28, 2024

Some residents are concerned that an expansion of Tesla's Berlin-Brandenburg factory would harm the environment. The German leader also said an attack which halted production at the facility was "an act of terrorism."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is pictured near a Tesla model Y at the start of the production at Tesla's "Gigafactory" outside Berlin on March 22, 2022
Scholz said there was a need for stronger protection for important factoriesImage: PATRICK PLEUL/Pool/AFP

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday he supports the controversial plans to expand US electric vehicle maker Tesla's plant near Berlin. 

Tesla wants to double the size of its Gigafactory in Grünheide on the outskirts of the German capital.

It has attracted opposition from various protesters, including residents and environmentalists.

Earlier this month, production at the factory was halted for nearly a week after a suspected arson attack cut power lines that were supplying electricity.

Tesla's factory extension plans

In February, a nonbinding vote in Grünheide found that over 60% of local residents were against the planned expansion.

But the chancellor pointed to another US carmaker, Ford, which has had a plant for almost 100 years in Cologne in western Germany, saying the carmaker and the municipality managed to work together to achieve success.   

"That's why I'm in favor of further expanding the plant," Scholz told Thursday's edition of the Märkische Allgemeine newspaper.

Some people fear the expansion will contaminate drinking water as it is partly in a water protection area. Others are unhappy because it would involve chopping down nearby trees.

Sabotage at Tesla stop production

Tesla's proposal to expand the electric vehicle factory includes plans to construct a freight station, warehouses, and a company kindergarten.

A left-wing group claimed that it had carried out an attack on an electricity pylon close to the plant that caught fire, causing power outages in the factory and nearby towns earlier this month.

In the interview with Märkische Allgemeine, Scholz described it as "an act of terrorism.

"The police and security authorities must do everything they can to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice," he said.

Arson attack shuts down Tesla's German plant

During a recent visit, Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused  "eco-terrorists" of cutting the plant's power supply as he defended Tesla's green credentials.

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lo/wd (dpa)