Automotive manufacturer Tesla has opened its first European factory on the outskirts of Berlin, in the back yard of some of the biggest players in the industry.
The capacity of the new Tesla Gigafactory will mean that 500,000 vehicles will roll off the production line each year; significantly more than Tesla’s closest rival in Germany.
Taking a break from a celebratory dance to mark the factory’s opening, Tesla owner Elon Musk described the new site as, “another step in the direction of a sustainable future”, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the plant was a sign of progress and the future of the car industry. Tesla said that around 3,500 of the plant’s expected 12,000 workers have been hired so far.
The first vehicle to roll off the production line was Tesla’s Model Y, a vehicle costing €63,990 ($70,500) with a 514km (320 miles) range. Tesla have said that new orders could be delivered from the plant as early as April.
However, the opening of the factory did not pass without incident. Coinciding with World Water Day, environmental groups disrupted the opening day with protests over the amount of water that will be used at the new 50GWh factory.
Two protestors abseiled from a motorway sign near the factory, blocking traffic for hours after the event. Musk had hoped to begin output from the factory eight months ago, but licensing delays and local concerns around the plant’s environmental impact held up the process.