Top-of-the-range electric vehicle constructor Tesla is to open a giant factory in the Berlin suburbs, its boss Elon Musk announced on Tuesday, making it the fourth after those in Nevada, New York and Shanghai in China.
“I have an announcement that will probably be well received,” he declared on the spot after receiving the “Golden Steering Wheel” awarded by the newspaper Bild.
“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, and that is one of the reasons why we are going to set up our European gigafactory in Germany,” he detailed.
Last July, Elon Musk explained to investors that his company was accelerating its efforts concerning its giant battery factory in Europe.
He stipulated on Tuesday that the German factory would also comprise an engineering and design centre, because “Berlin has some of the best works of art in the world.”
Tesla represents 30% of the European market in battery-driven electric cars, according to Matthias Schmidt, a specialist automotive industry analyst.
Questioned about Germany lagging behind in the manufacture of electric vehicles, Elon Musk replied: “I don’t think Germany is that far behind.”
“It’s always more difficult when there is still a lot of dynamism and infrastructure in place around old technology,” he continued. “When we started at Tesla, everyone thought we were crazy.”
The American manufacturer recently became profitable again, following two quarters in the red, and its owner said he was “fully confident” of his group’s capacity to keep its promise to deliver between 360,000 and 400,000 new cars this year.
He also welcomed the production tests carried out at the new giant Shanghai facility (about 865,000 square metres), built-in ten months and having an annual production capacity of at least 500,000 cars.
This factory “was nearly 65% cheaper (…) to build than our entire Model 3 production system in the United States,” the group, which aims to continue increasing its sales volumes and to rein in its costs to be sustainably profitable, explained.
The European factory will be located near the “new airport”, Elon Musk pointed out, prompting some laughter from the public because the Berlin Brandenburg airport should have been inaugurated in 2012, but its opening was put back indefinitely because of a plethora of defects, notably in terms of fire safety.
“We must definitely progress faster than the airport,” the billionaire boss admitted.