Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said he hopes the company’s first European “Gigafactory”, in Germany, could begin production in October following delays.
The plant has faced environmental and bureaucratic hurdles that have pushed back its start date, and the environmental agency in Brandenburg still has yet to issue its final approval, meaning a further delay into 2022 is possible.
“We’re looking forward to hopefully getting the approval to make the first cars maybe in October if we are fortunate,” Musk said during a visit to the plant, located in Gruenheide, near Berlin.
The plant has faced resistance over environmental concerns, as it overlaps a drinking water protection zone and borders a nature reserve.
“This region has so much water, look around you,” Musk joked. “It rains a lot.”
“We feel very welcome and we’re very happy to be here in Deutschland,” he said, according to a Reuters report.
He later said locals and the general public would be invited to a tour of the plant on 9 October.
Musk was accompanied on his visit by Armin Laschet, Germany’s conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in the upcoming 26 September federal election.
Laschet’s personal approval ratings recently dropped after he was seen laughing on a visit to a flood-stricken town.
“Sometimes one has the impression that inventing something new is technologically easier than dismantling bureaucracy in Germany,” he told reporters.
Musk said he hopes the factory can serve as an “inspiration” to people in Germany and Europe for “excitement about the future”.
During the development of the site Tesla has had to deal with the removal of WWII-era explosives, the relocation of various animals, building around local wildlife’s mating season and ensuring construction work doesn’t disturb groups of reptiles.
In June Tesla revealed plans for a possible Gigafactory at Coventry Airport.
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