Who would have thought when Tesla started selling the Model S in 2012 that less than 8 years later it would have a shiny new factory in China and plans to bring EV manufacturing to Germany, the heart of automobile manufacturing in Europe? On November 12, CEO Elon Musk traveled to Berlin to announce that Gigafactory 4 would be located near the German capitol.
🖤♥️💛 GIGA BERLIN 💛♥️🖤
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 12, 2019
Musk was in Germany to accept a Golden Steering Wheel award from Auto Bild, a German publication that covers the auto industry. “Berlin is great,” Musk said after the award ceremony. “I love Berlin.” In its latest earnings letter, Tesla said the European Gigafactory would likely be operational by 2021, predicting it would be similar to the Shanghai facility, since both will be manufacturing the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV/crossover.
The new German factory could make Tesla one of the largest employers in Berlin. According to one of our resident Berliners, looking at the data here, it appears Tesla could easily be a top 6 employer in the city. That said, it wasn’t clear if it will be counted as in the city or will just be near Berlin.
Tesla has been hinting at a European factory for years and has gotten proposals from many cities on the Old Continent, from Spain to Poland. Berlin is a bit of a surprise because it is not a manufacturing center. It is, however, a technology hub, which means Tesla will be able to choose from some of German’s best computer engineers for Gigafactory 4.
Musk also mentioned at the Auto Bild event that Tesla will be opening an engineering and design studio in Berlin as well. Musk has often said he expects to build 10 to 12 gigafactories around the world in coming years. High-level engineering and design to optimize for that is needed, and Germany is a good place to tap into those fields.
Following the news that Volkswagen began series production of its ID.3 electric car in Zwickau last week and is converting other factories in Germany, the electric car revolution in Germany is clearly picking up much needed momentum. Now, the question is how the other major German automakers will respond. Mercedes is introducing some electric cars, but most are aimed at the upper end of the market. BMW is apparently content to introduce some hybrids while it tries to figure out what its long-term strategy will be.
Tesla is not waiting around. With its new Berlin factory, it will be in the thick of the electric car mix in Europe, forcing everyone else to play catch-up.
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