Elon Musk has said that he expects the Tesla Model Y electric crossover – which has helped Europe hit a new all-time high of battery-electric car sales – will start rolling off the factory of its new Berlin Gigafactory from next month.
Visiting the Brandenburg site on Saturday (Europe time), the Tesla CEO said he hopes that German authorities will give the new EV factory the green light after the latest round of public consultation closes on October 14.
At the event, which included a festival-style “Giga Fest”, including Tesla coils emitting electric currents to the beat of electronic music, Musk said the start of production at the factory, which had been slowed by public concerns over environmental impacts, was welcome but it would take some time to ramp up production.
“Starting production is nice, but volume production is the hard part,” Musk told attendees (some of who live-streamed the speech) at the festival event. “It will take longer to reach volume production than it took to build the factory.”
A sign on display at the event said: “We can produce as many electric cars here as were sold in the EU last year.”
The factory, which features massive die-cast “Giga Press” machines, will see a new Model Y body stamped every 45 seconds according to another sign on display at the site and posted on Twitter.
Musk clarified the statement saying that if the company can sustain an uptime of 75% on average it would mean 10,000 Model Ys a week could be rolling out of Giga Berlin.
It will hopefully achieve sustained cycle time of 45 seconds. At 75% uptime over an average week, that’s ~10k/week if run 24/7.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 9, 2021
Alex Voigt, an electric vehicle writer who attended the event, has noted on Twitter that sources told him Tesla’s production rate instigated an emergency meeting by VW Group chief Herbert Diess and VW brand CEO Ralf Brandstätter with 120 managers.
According to the sources, VW is concerned that Tesla can make a car three times faster that VW can make an ID.3 in Zwickau (10 hours versus 30 hours), and that once the Berlin gigafactory opens it simply will not be able to compete on volume.
According to BI sources Herbert Diess and Brand CEO Ralf Brandstätter called Thursday all 120 top managers in Wolfsburg together for a crisis meeting
Diess stated that compared to Tesla and Chinese manufacturers VW is too expensive, slow and with low productivity not competitive
— Alex (@alex_avoigt) October 1, 2021
And Tesla is already beating the German auto giants on electric car sales in Europe.
Western Europe recorded a new record in battery-electric car sales, reaching 15.3% of all cars sold in September – equating to almost 136,000 new electric cars in total.
Auto analyst Matthias Schmidt cited the recent introduction of the Tesla Model Y, which is being imported to Europe from China as the Californian EV maker works towards completion of its Brandenburg factory near Berlin.
In total, Tesla accounted for one in four EV sales in September, with 34,000 EVs sold.
Tesla’s surging sales, plus the fact that other car-makers are also boosting EV production and sales due to the combined effect of the semiconductor shortage and the EU’s carbon emissions limits, are driving the latest record.
“A number of reasons impacted the new record in September, namely; the boost from Tesla’s end of quarter volumes, achieving a monthly record of 34,000 units, or every fourth BEV – boosted by both the Model Y introduction and shipments from China – as well as the semiconductor situation deflating the total passenger car market,” Schmidt said.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.