Tesla suspends Gigafactory Berlin after arson attack paralyzes power supply

Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin, Germany. Credit: Tesla

EV giant Tesla was forced to halt production at its Gigafactory near Berlin on March 5 because a high-voltage pylon near the site was set on fire, damaging the plant's power supply. The attack came after residents voted down the EV maker's expansion plan last month.

According to Germany-based Handelsblatt, Tesla's internal letter showed that the factory will remain suspended until the end of this week. Reuters reported that the suspension would last until early next week.

According to Tesla's financial report, the Gigafactory near Berlin holds a production capacity of 375,000 Model Ys. The plant employs roughly 12,500 people. The fire on Tuesday did not damage Tesla's property. According to Reuters, however, the company is estimated to lose hundreds of millions of euros due to the power outage.

Local Media reported that a left-wing group criticizing Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, claimed responsibility for the arson attack. The same group organized another attack on the Berlin site's power supply when it was under construction in 2021.

Musk said on X that the suspects are "either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or puppets of those who don't have good environmental goals." The CEO added that stopping production of electric vehicles, rather than fossil fuel vehicles, ist extrem dumm, the German for "extremely dumb."

The attack was Tesla's latest roadblock in Europe. In February, 65% of voters in the community surrounding the Gigafactory near Berlin opposed the EV company's expansion plan. While the vote was nonbinding, the local government said it would consider the opinion and figure out a solution.

The New York Times reported that dozens of protestors of Tesla's expansion have camped in a forest next to the company's Berlin site since last week. These protestors have disassociated themselves from the arson on Tuesday.

Tesla plans to grow the factory's production capacity to 1 million cars annually and double the battery production capacity to 100GWh.