Electric car maker Tesla plans to produce 500,000 cars a year at its German Gigafactory, starting with the “mass-market” Model Y crossover SUV as soon as 2021.
Riding on the coat tails of the lightning quick 10 month build of its Gigafactory 3 in China, where the EV maker commenced production in November, Tesla will start construction of its German factory as soon as January 2020, suggesting another rapid build.
The news of a target output for its Brandenburg factory, the site for which was announced by CEO and co-founder Elon Musk in November, comes from German media outlet Bild (via Reuters), which also reported on the expected construction start date.
This is backed up by a research note from the Deutsche Bank, which also noted that that Model Y production will precede the Model 3 in Germany. (Deutsche Bank also noted earlier in December that Model Y production could begin in the US as soon as Q1 2020.)
With both the International Energy Agency and the UK Energy Centre recently noting the growth of the fossil-fuelled SUV sales in recent times has the potential to negate gains made by the transition to electric vehicles, it is promising to hear that Tesla is choosing to build the Model Y SUV ahead of the Model 3 in Europe.
The Brandenburg electric car factory is Tesla’s fourth Gigafactory and once production starts will place considerable pressure on rival car maker Volkswagen, which rolled its first electric hatchback off the factory floor in November.
Volkswagen – which was castigated in the media and copped big fines for its Dieselgate scandal in 2015 – plans to make 330,000 units of the ID3 electric hatchback a year at its converted Zwickau plant from 2021, and says it already has 35,000 orders.
While the note from Deutsche Bank does not state the size of Tesla’s investment in the Brandenburg plant, German news site Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported (also via Reuters) that Tesla will invest up to 4 billion euros ($4.41 billion) in the plant.
Musk first announced the site of the German Gigafactory would be in the “Berlin area” at an event in November when he accepted the “Golden Steering Wheel” award for the Model 3, one of Germany’s most respected automotive awards.
At the event Musk said, “Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, for sure. That’s part of the reason why we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany. We are also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin, because Berlin has some of the best art in the world.”
On stage with Musk at the time of the announcement, VW CEO Herbert Diess thanked Musk for driving the transition to electric cars,.
“I thank you for pioneering, for pulling us, for pushing us. I think really Elon is the innovator, which is driving us along. So it’s worthwhile to talk about batteries and the right concepts, and I always enjoy talking to you because, he’s really a visionary.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.