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Tesla to build European Gigafactory near Berlin

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Now that Gigafactory 3 near Shanghai is almost ready to begin production, it’s time to start work on the next one. Speaking at a recent event in Germany, where he received a Golden Steering Wheel award from the German tabloid Bild, Elon Musk announced that Tesla has chosen the Berlin area as the location of Gigafactory 4.

“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, for
sure. That’s part of the reason why we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in
Germany,” said Musk. “We are also going to create an engineering and design
center in Berlin, because Berlin has some of the best art in the world.”

Musk said the factory will be located near Berlin’s airport,
but declined to offer more details.

Speculation about the location of the next Gigafactory has been running rife for the last couple of years, and several European countries and regions mounted campaigns to woo the California carmaker. In 2018, Musk said that Germany was the “leading choice,” but the choice of Berlin came as something of a surprise.

Musk told Auto Express that England wasn’t considered as a site: “Brexit [uncertainty] made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK.” Earlier plans for an R&D center in Britain, which ironically is an e-mobility leader, were also shelved.

Some noted that Germany has some of the highest labor and energy
costs in the world, but for Tesla, access to modern infrastructure and world-class
engineering talent plainly outweigh such considerations. Morgan Stanley analyst
Adam Jonas recently wrote that Germany would be the logical choice for the new
Gig, noting that it is “the heart of the global luxury-auto market, with an
economy dependent on internal-combustion tech and a government focused on
climate change.”

In terms of Tesla’s overriding mission of accelerating the transition to EVs, the choice makes a lot of sense. Germany’s auto industry has fallen out of the lead lap in the electrification race, but the Volkswagen Group has a convincing strategy to take the lead. With Tesla racing on their home track, the Germans will be forced to compete, cooperate or (hopefully) both. As the Detroit News put it, Elon Musk is “sending a stark message to some of the world’s most prestigious automakers that he’s headed for their home turf.”

Tesla has reportedly begun listing jobs related to
Gigafactory 4 on its web site. No timetable has been offered, but earlier this year,
Musk said he expects the new European plant to be in service by the end of
2021.

Sources: Detroit NewsElectrek, CNBC