Elon Musk predicts Tesla production in Germany ‘maybe in October’

BERLIN — Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said Friday that he hopes to start producing cars at its new factory outside Berlin in October.

The U.S. company had originally planned to begin manufacturing its electric cars at the “Gigafactory” in Gruenheide, east of the German capital, in July.

But legal challenges and problems getting official permits have delayed the project.

“We’re looking forward to hopefully getting the approval to make the first cars, maybe in October if we’re fortunate,” Musk said during a visit to the site Friday.

Armin Laschet, the center-right Union bloc’s candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in next month’s election, thanked Musk for his investment in Germany.

Laschet suggested German laws should be changed to make it harder for people not directly affected by the factory’s construction to file legal complaints against it, German news agency DPA reports. The project has been plagued with legal challenges and red tape.

In the latest controversy surrounding the project, victims of communism in East Germany on Thursday criticized the decision to grant Tesla a subsidy of 8.1 million euros (almost $10 million) from a trust fund managing what’s left of the communist regime’s fortune.

German media reported that the state of Brandenburg is allocating the funds to pay for infrastructure costs related to the Tesla Gigafactory.

UOKG, an association representing victims of communism in East Germany, said it welcomed the construction of the factory but questioned “why the state government of Brandenburg is helping the third-richest man in the world” with money seized from former regime entities.

The group’s chairman, Dieter Dombrowski, said the money could also have gone toward helping build schools, elderly care homes, daycare centers for children or memorials for victims of the communist dictatorship. He noted that Friday marks the 60th anniversary of the day when construction began on the Berlin Wall, where dozens of fleeing East Germans were killed until 1989.

Katharina Slanina of the opposition Left party in Brandenburg state likewise criticized the decision.

“It’s not right that multi-billionaire Musk should put the risks and side effects of his project onto the public’s shoulders, but keep all the profits for himself,” she said. Her party is effectively the successor to East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Source: AutoBlog.com