Currently reading: First Tesla cars from Berlin Gigafactory handed over by Elon Musk
EV maker's CEO was in Germany to see the first models produced at the €5 billion Gruenheide plant

Tesla is ramping up its European offensive as the first Tesla Model Y EVs have begun rolling off the line at its new Berlin Gigafactory.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was joined by German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz to oversee the first 30 cars built at the €5 billion ($4.2bn) Gruenheide plant being handed over to customers.

"This is a great day for the factory," Musk told Reuters, calling the start of production "another step in the direction of a sustainable future".

Gruenheide is Tesla's first European hub, having first been announced two years ago. It's the company's third major production facility, joining those in the US and China.

The 30 new Model Y owners and their families were joined by German Tesla fans, who posted images and videos of the handover event to social media.

The facility will eventually produce 500,000 cars per year when at full capacity, which is expected to take around two years. It will also generate 50 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery power, eclipsing all other car plants in Germany.

Rival company Volkswagen is preparing to turn its Wolfburg facility into an EV production hub, but the €2bn (£1.67bn) upgrade isn't expected to be completed until 2026.

Globally, the entire Volkswagen Group produced around 450,000 EVs last year.

Gruenheide was originally planned to open last summer, but the start of production was delayed by supply-chain issues created by the pandemic, as well as concerns about the plant's environmental impact.

Tesla received final approval to start car production there on 4 March, having almost lost its water-supply contracts following a complaint by local environmental groups. The American company subsequently promised to minimise water usage and to plant more trees than were removed during construction, although these promises weren't enough to prevent protesters from gathering outside the facility during the handover ceremony. 

Tesla has said that new car orders from the plant could be delivered from April.

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Tonrichard 22 March 2022

I am hoping that the Model 3 for the UK market will be made in Germany once the factory has cranked up the production line and can satisfy European demand for the MY but I fear I may have a long wait. Having had the opportunity to have a close look at a friend’s new MY I still think Tesla have got a little way to go to meet German standards of build quality. Panel gaps much improved over earlier M3’s but IMHO the shut lines are not as tight or consistent as on most European, Japanse and Korean cars and paint finish not great. I really admire Tesla’s technology and clean sheet approach to design but I still struggle with the minimalist interior which doesn’t have the perceived quality and ambiance of a Audi, BMW or Mercedes Benz (or perhaps even a Skoda). What however is holding me back is I uncomfortable with the Chinese regime not playing by fair trade rules and their equivocal support for Putin. If Tesla are not able to overcome the environmental concerns to expand their Berlin plant I guess they might have to build a second European plant. The UK might not be the obvious place but I think with our capacity to generate huge levels energy from off shore wind farms there could be a big market for battery storage which would probably require a UK Giga plant. 

Bill the Lizard 22 March 2022

Any word on when UK deliveries will start? I seem to recall the underpinnings of the German spec cars have improved over the Chinese built ones. Less far to travel as well. 

Folsom 22 March 2022

I hear some of the cars didn't break down until they'd left the factory...

Nah, of course nothing like that happened and a lot of guys like me who underestimated how well Tesla could do can only eat humble pie now.

When my neighbor had so many problems with her early Model 3, I really doubted that Tesla could have been as successful as they are today.

The annoying behaviour of some Tesla fanboys shouldn't overshadow the amazing trajectory from a startup in showing the big boys how its done.

Well done Elon Musk and Tesla!