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33 Brand New Tesla Model Y Vehicles Spotted At Gigafactory Berlin, While Waiting For Final Approval

While some social media users argue that Tesla might have started pre-production with missing parts so it technically "is not a produced car, on paper", other suggest that they could make 500 prototypes a day on a temporary permit, while waiting for the "rubber stamping person-in-charge" to approve the main permit.

The Tesla Model Y Performance is already being produced in Gigafactory Berlin, according to many different social media sources we mentioned in another article yesterday, January 5th; that is, actually produced at Giga Berlin, not shipped from Giga Shanghai (the reasoning being that if it were coming from China, the cars would have already received a VIN). Even though there is no official confirmation from Tesla, we concluded that deliveries were set to start at the end of January; now we can clearly see that production, at some pre-volume level, has already started.

Gigafactory Berlin Grunheide, extending north from the 1-square-kilometre (0.4 sq mi) "GVZ Freienbrink" logistics centre, is an undeveloped 3-square-kilometre (1.2 sq mi) area, a greenfield land site designated industrial zone. It was planned as a location for a BMW car factory around the year 2000, but BMW chose Saxony instead. Much larger pine plantations in a landscape-scale conservation surrounds Freienbrink. A state-owned man-made forest of low-quality monoculture harvest-ready planted pine trees occupies the site, and authorities expect Tesla to mitigate felling by planting new trees of more diverse variety. Old ordnance complicates site clearing, and seven bombs (85 kg total) were disposed in a controlled explosion on January 26, 2020.

Gigafactory Berlin, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

The site also interrupts the route of the Old Postal Road (Alte Poststraße). Purchase contract on the land was expected to be completed in December 2019. In December 2019, Tesla clarified an expected European Gigafactory production rate of approximately 500,000 vehicles per year. Tesla was to pay €13.50 per square metre for the 300-hectare (740-acre) site, to the sum of ~€41 million. In January 2020 German media reported that Tesla had approved the contract to buy the land for €41 million; Tesla signed the contract and the state notarized the contract on 29 January 2020. The environment report indicates that the ground is valley sand, and contains some pollution with heavy metals.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

The project was subject to a number of concerns right from the beginning, including potential impacts to the water supply and local wildlife, and about proper wastewater disposal. In the public hearing in Stadthalle Erkner protesters were concerned that the chemicals in the factory would pose a violation of the AwSV §49, which meant that the plans for the factory could have been stopped at the time. Among the forest residents were reptiles, ants and birds which needed to be relocated before felling. There may have been an endangered species of bat; the district forester who planted trees said that the bats prefer trees older than 80 years to roost in them. Then, a group of neighbouring municipalities was formed in December 2019 to handle issues like traffic, infrastructure and residential developments.

Unexploded WWII-era bombs are commonly found in German ground, and 85 kg were disposed at the site in January 2020. On 9 April 2020, Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten (also known as The PNN) reported that the soil in the foundation area was sandy, therefore requiring a different type of foundation than what was planned. According to the report, the changes were not simple. Tesla would have needed to update their application with the local government, probably requiring a new public hearing; many other issues also came up later regarding permits and authorizations.

Brandebrug´s Prime Minister, Dietmar Voidke, called yesterday. January 5th, for faster approval procedures and said "… we urgently need an acceleration of the approval process.". As of today, January 6th 2022, and based on many different on-line sources and social media pictures available, we can basically tell that Giga Berlin is already producing the Tesla Model Y at least in small, pre-production batches, while waiting for the final approval. Certainly good news for all Tesla reservation holders in Europe.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.