Protestors Clash With Police At Tesla Gigafactory In Germany

Tesla’s only Gigafactory in Europe has been targetted by fresh protests, after hundreds of climate activists broke through police lines in an attempt to storm the site.

CNBC reported that last Friday that up to eight hundred climate protestors had tried to break into the plant Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory in Germany, according to a statement from local police.

“Multiple unauthorized people are trying to enter the ground of the Tesla factory,” Brandenburg police reportedly said via X Friday. “We are in the process of preventing this.”

Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory

“The situation is dynamic,” a Brandenburg police spokesperson told CNBC Friday, adding that there have been multiple roadblocks in the area due to the demonstrations.

The police claimed they had prevented the protestors from accessing the Gigafactory, but some media reports have suggested that perimeter fences were damaged.

The Tesla Giga Berlin (or Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg) factory is located in Grünheide, a coal town in Brandenburg, Germany, within commuting distance of Berlin.

“There are currently 800 activists on the Tesla Gigafactory site as part of the Disrupt Tesla Action Days,” Disrupt – a coalition of anti-capitalist groups that organised the protest, said in a statement on its website.

The Disrupt group is protesting the expansion plans of Elon Musk, to more than double the production capacity of Tesla’s only factory in Europe.

The protestors argue the expansion will damage the local environment, as the expansion would require the clearing of swathes of the surrounding forest and would further strain the water supply in the local area.

The protests at the site had began last Wednesday, but Tesla reportedly shut the factory last Friday to all staff, in anticipation of larger crowds.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that protesters did not manage to break through the fence line., saying there are still two intact fence lines all around (the factory).

Previous protests

The Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory has been the subject of other protests and even criminal damage previously.

The German factory was only the third ever Tesla factory, and was opened in March 2022, employing 12,500 people and making 500,000 electric cars a year.

However it faced a number of issues during its construction, including resistance over environmental concerns, as it overlaps a drinking water protection zone and borders a nature reserve.

Locally there has been a lot of debate about the high usage of groundwater by Tesla in a region that has been suffering from drought for several years, as well as dismay over the amount of forest that had been chopped down to make way for the factory itself.

In May 2021 the factory suffered an arson attack by the Vulkan (volcano) group that damaged several power cables, and a letter posted on a radical-left platform said at the time that activists had cut the power supply to the Tesla site by setting fire to six high-voltage cables above ground.

Then in January 2024, Tesla had to halt most production at the plant for two weeks, due to parts deliveries delayed by the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

In March 2024 Tesla production at the Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg was halted again for a number of days, after another arson attack.

The Vulkan activist group once again claimed responsibility for that attack, saying the factory consumed both natural resources and labour and was neither ecological or sustainable.

Tesla bosses reportedly said the damages ran into hundreds of millions of euros and would cause production to halt until the end of the week.

The electricity outage affected the factory as well as surrounding communities in the state of Brandenburg.

Elon Musk at the time had slammed the arson attack in a tweet on X (formerly Twitter).

“These are either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or they’re puppets of those who don’t have good environmental goals.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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