BERLIN, The announcement by Tesla chief executive Elon Musk that the US automotive company is to build a major battery and assembly plant near Berlin is a milestone in the shift to electric mobility in Europe, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in Berlin on Wednesday.
Germany had won out in a competition with other European countries, but no talks had yet been held with Tesla on subsidies, German news agency DPA quoted Altmaier as saying.
Altmaier has long pushed for a European initiative on the manufacture of the battery cells that are key to electric car production, in cooperation mainly with France.
He has previously outlined plans for government funding of 1 billion euros (US$1.1 billion) towards a battery plant in Germany by 2024, amid concerns that the European Union is falling behind Asia, and China in particular, in this area.
France is also planning a similar initiative, drawing in PSA, makers of Peugeot, Opel and Total subsidiary Saft. In September, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced plans for a battery cell factory employing 2,000 by 2022.
Musk’s announcement came on Tuesday during the Golden Steering Wheel awards ceremony, hosted by automotive magazine Auto Bild and the Bild am Sonntag newspaper in the German capital.
The planned Tesla plant to be built near Berlin’s new airport, which has yet to start operating, could create up to 7,000 new jobs, Berlin officials said.
A spokesman for the Berlin financial administration said the city state, and the surrounding state of Brandenburg, had been in talks with Tesla for months on the project.
Brandenburg Premier Dietmar Woidke said the state’s renewable sources of energy had been a factor in Tesla’s decision.
“We have the raw materials of the future. We have renewable energy in Brandenburg,” he said in the state capital of Potsdam, adding that this had been a key advantage in the talks with Musk.
Other factors included the high density of scientific and research facilities in Berlin.
According to state government sources, the new plant is to be built at Gruenheide in the Oder-Spree local authority.
Musk cited Germany’s expertise in the automotive sector as a reason for choosing the country. “Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding for sure, that’s part of the reason why we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany,” the DPA report quoted Musk as saying.
Source: Emirates News Agency