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07 Mar 2022, 14:05
Sören Amelang

Tesla gets green light for Berlin gigafactory, VW to build new e-car plant

Reuters / Clean Energy Wire

Tesla received a conditional permit for its first European "gigafactory" near Berlin, while rival Volkswagen approved construction of a brand new e-car plant near its Wolfsburg headquarters, indicating rising competition in the quickening shift to electric mobility. Before Tesla can start production, the Brandenburg state government has said it must fulfil numerous conditions concerning water use and air pollution control, according to a Reuters report. State premier Dietmar Woidke called the permit for the 5 billion euro factory "a big step into the future" and a major industrial and technological driver for Germany and the region. Tesla originally planned to start production in summer 2021, but the drawn-out approval process delayed the opening. Tesla wants to produce 500,000 electric cars per year for the European market once an initial expansion phase is complete.

Germany’s largest car company Volkswagen said it will spend around 2 billion euros on building a new plant dedicated exclusively to electric vehicles. “With this decision we are strengthening and sustaining the competitiveness of the main plant and giving the workforce a robust long-term perspective,” Volkswagen CEO Ralf Brandstätter said. Construction is set to begin in spring 2023, with production of the Trinity model to launch in 2026. Volkswagen said the upcoming pure electric flagship model will be "net carbon-neutral." The company plans to make around 250.000 e-cars per year at the new plant, according to business daily Handelsblatt.

The transition to electric cars is rapidly gathering pace in Europe. Last year, registrations of purely electric cars in Germany soared 83 percent to reach a share of 14 percent, while the number of new hybrid cars (including plug-ins) rose more than 40 percent to a total share of 29 percent. In Germany, buyers of electric cars costing up to 40,000 euros can apply for a support payment of 9,000 euro, or 6,750 euros for a hybrid car. The government spent over 3 billion euros on supporting e-car sales in 2021.

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