Gigafactory Berlin, courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nicolas Caballero's picture

Tesla Volume Production in Giga-Berlin By Mid-February; Elon Musk Visiting

Volume production at Tesla Giga-Berlin is apparently imminent: Elon Musk is planning a visit in mid-February that would coincide, by all accounts, with the official start of production.
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After denying that the visit was going to take place this week, Elon Musk has confirmed that he plans to fly to Berlin "in the middle of February", which has raised all kinds of speculation about the possible official launch of the Gigafactory Tesla is building there. The technical, environmental and bureaucratic problems seem to be apparently solved (at last) for the German government to grant Tesla the permission it needs to start producing electric cars there, mainly Model Y models.

Over the past year, Tesla has run into multiple bureaucratic hurdles while trying to get the final approval from the German Government in order to to start production of its electric cars at Giga-Berlin. The only problem to solve right now is the environmental approval that needs to be granted by the Brandenburg administration officials, the German city where the Giga-Factory is located.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Several environmental groups previously managed to somehow slow down the period of consultations and public comments on the project, which greatly delayed all bureaucratic procedures for about a whole month. This delay ended in November, so (educated) rumors indicate that Tesla is about to receive the final approval it still needs.
While still waiting for the favorable completion of these procedures, German authorities authorized Tesla to produce 250 Model Y bodies for internal tests, so many units of this electric SUV were seen right outside Giga Berlin last month. Tesla detected some quality problems among some models within that first batch that did not perfectly comply with the very strict production specifications, so the company now aims to correct the processes - in which multiple factors intervene - to prevent any possible failure or flaw before moving to mass production.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

This is the reason why at the beginning of January, while the facilities continued to be reviewed and certified by the German authorities, Tesla received a new authorization to manufacture another 2,000 units batch, a necessary step for the factory to receive the final green light. Those vehicles, which serve as proof of production, may in no case be put up for sale since the factory is not yet officially approved.

In the last week of December 2021 the German Government confirmed that it had already received all the necessary documentation it needed in order to be able to authorize production, so there has been speculation that the start of manufacturing could be imminent. This week several articles and social media postings assured that Elon Musk would be visiting the factory, although it has been Musk himself who denied them, by the way confirming that he will visit Berlin "in the middle of February", when the manufacturing test of the 2,000 units is finished.

Tesla hopes that Giga Berlin will meet the BEV demand on the European market, streamlining the manufacturing and delivery processes. As of today, US and China Gigafactories supply all Tesla's models to European countries. The other factory that Tesla is about to open is the one in Austin, Texas, where an entire batch of more than a dozen Model Ys have been photographed fast-charging at the plant. This could suggest that Giga Texas might start volume production before Giga Berlin, although nobody knows for sure other than Elon Musk.

In any case the challenge for Tesla is not actually to start production, but rather to steadily increase the manufacturing curve so that there are no supply issues that could make European reservation holders to wait long periods of time before finally receiving their Berlin-made Model Y.

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.


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