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Tesla’s German Plant on Hold

Bats, wolves and snakes get their day in court.
#facilities #Tesla #europe

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Work on the site of Tesla’s electric-car factory outside Berlin is on hold over environmental and wildlife concerns.

The injunction came after Tesla began knocking down acres of trees at the heavily forested location (and removing live ammunition left from World War II) last week. The carmaker hopes to open the first phase of the $4.4 billion plant by July 2021.

Save the Bats

But the local town, Gruenheide (population 8,700), is worried about the factory draining off its water supply. And environmentalists fret over Tesla’s ability to satisfy a construction permit requirement that the company relocates the wooded site’s wolves, snakes, lizards and hibernating bats until the project is completed.

CEO Elon Musk says the German plant will be designed with the environment in mind. He also says Tesla is committed to planting three trees somewhere for each one being removed outside Gruenheide. The company also has argued the forest is a tree farm that had been planted in the first place to be harvested.

A lower court rejected a Gruenheide environmental group lawsuit to halt construction. But the region’s higher administrative court overturned that decision to further review the issue. Tesla and Gruenheide expect to meet a deadline to weigh in with their views today. The court hasn’t said when it will make a ruling.

Unless Tesla finishes clearing the site by mid-March, the company may be forced to wait 6-9 months until the breeding period for the area’s wildlife concludes, Bloomberg News reports.

Insurance Policy

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is eager to get the German plant up and running fast, so it can cash in on Europe’s rapidly emerging EV market.

The facility, which Musk says eventually will be able to make 500,000 cars per year, also will be an excellent insurance policy against trade strife between the European Union and the U.S.

Tesla currently supplies Europe with a relatively modest trickle of Model 3 electric sedans from its home plant in Fremont, Calif. Those cars cost around $68,000 in Europe, compared with $40,000 in the U.S. Higher shipping costs and the EU’s 10% import duty on foreign cars contribute to the higher European pricing.

Payoff

Musk figures that the Model 3’s retail price will drop by $10,000 in Europe when Tesla begins local manufacturing. Prices would swing the other way if the U.S. and Europe get into a trade war and impose 25% tariffs on each other’s imports.

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