Tesla faces protests at German Gigafactory over planned expansion

  • Tesla’s factory outside Berlin in the town of Gruenheide has long experienced pushback from disgruntled locals and environmental groups.
Tesla
Tesla’s factory outside Berlin in the town of Gruenheide has long experienced pushback from disgruntled locals and environmental groups. (AFP)
Tesla
Tesla’s factory outside Berlin in the town of Gruenheide has long experienced pushback from disgruntled locals and environmental groups.

Tesla Inc. faced further protests at its factory in Germany, where activists are trying to stop an expansion of the electric car maker’s facilities that would require razing part of the surrounding forest.

Demonstrations are expected to continue through the weekend after at least 16 people were arrested Friday following actions including breaking into an airfield and damaging new Tesla vehicles and blocking a state road by the factory, the police for the state of Brandenburg said in a statement.

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Several people were injured, including 21 police officers, according to the release.

Tesla’s factory outside Berlin in the town of Gruenheide has long experienced pushback from disgruntled locals and environmental groups. First announced in late 2019, the plant’s opening was delayed for months by legal challenges from groups concerned the site would use too much water and threaten local wildlife.

Activists have been camping in a forest near the plant since February to protest a potential expansion. In March, the carmaker was forced to stop production at the factory and send workers home after an arson attack at a nearby electricity tower caused power failures throughout the region.

Jörg Steinbach, Brandenburg’s minister of economy, energy and labour, said the actions on Friday were “unacceptable."

“The future needs perspectives like Tesla," Steinbach said in a post on X. “Many people already today live from these jobs."

The facility, which makes the Model Y — Europe’s best-selling passenger car last year — employs around 12,000 people.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the protests.

First Published Date: 13 May 2024, 06:41 AM IST
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