Tesla Berlin Factory Arson Attack Claimed By Leftwing Group

Production at Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg factory has been halted, after an arson attack by leftwing environmental activists.

The Guardian newspaper reported that the arson attack on an electricity pylon at the Tesla car factory in Berlin would halt production until the end of the week.

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

Troubled construction

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.

“Tesla is neither green, ecological nor social,” the letter reportedly said.

The Elon Musk factory has also previously clashed with Germany’s biggest trade union over its reluctance to accept organised labour.

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.

Arson attack

Now the factory has suffered a second arson attack, which has halted production until the end of the week.

In a 2,500-word letter released on Tuesday, the Guardian reported that the Vulkan activist group has once again claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the factory consumed both natural resources and labour and was neither ecological or sustainable.

The Guardian reported that local police have launched a criminal investigation into the fire and were checking the authenticity of the letter, which had been signed Água De Pau, the name of a volcanic mountain in the Azores.

In a press conference on Tuesday, 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. The factory had to be evacuated in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Tesla boss, Elon Musk, 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.”

He added: “Stopping production of electric vehicles, rather than fossil fuel vehicles, ist extrem dumm,” he said, switching to the German phrase meaning “extremely dumb”.

Challenging time

The arson attack comes at a challenging time for Tesla, with electric cars coming under increasing attack by environmental activists.

Activistsare are reportedly concerned that EV production leads to higher emissions than the manufacture of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, and that the production and recharging of electric car batteries constitute an environmental burden.

In targeted attacks around Europe, including in Germany, electric cars have had their tyres slashed or deflated, the Guardian reported.

Meanwhile Tesla has introduced another price cut in China and began giving pay rises to US staff, all of which is eroding its profit margins, which had already fallen to 16.3 percent in the third quarter from 27.9 percent a year earlier.

Investors are also concerned about slowing growth for EVs, something of which Tesla warned in its October third-quarter earnings report.

That warning was echoed by other major carmakers and suppliers, with many reducing their expansion plans.

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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