German town suggests expansion of Tesla plant on a smaller scale

A general view of the Tesla factory in Gruenheide. After an attack on the power supply of the electric car manufacturer Tesla, the factory is back on the grid after a power cut lasting several days. It could take some time to ramp up production. According to a report by "Table Media", Tesla boss Musk visited the plant near Berlin on Wednesday. The car manufacturer did not comment on this on Tuesday. Carsten Koall/dpa

The small town of Grünheide outside Berlin has suggested scaling down plans by Tesla to massively expand its electric car factory there.

On Thursday, the municipality presented proposals for a new version of the development plan. The amended plan, which was posted on the Grünheide town website, still needs to be publicly displayed before community representatives can vote on it.

In a non-binding referendum three weeks ago, the residents of Grünheide voted against the clearing of 100 hectares of forest.

Grünheide's mayor, Arne Christiani, suggested that almost 50 hectares of forest be preserved and the expansion scaled down. With this suggestion, he added, the municipal administration was taking citizen's the wishes of the citizens into account.

Tesla had made this change possible by deferring some aspects of the development, the carmaker said on Thursday evening.

Tesla is focusing on the storage areas as well as production-related ancillary facilities necessary for climate-neutral logistics at the plant, it said.

Tesla had originally also wanted to build a freight station, warehouses and a daycare centre on an area next to the factory premises.

Tesla now also says it will not need more water for its expansion, in contrast to earlier projections. The company said it is prepared to forego water volumes for the first expansion stage and is negotiating with the local water provider.

The Strausberg-Erkner Water Association (WSE) supplies 170,000 people in the area and has a contract to supply the Tesla facility with up to 1.8 million cubic meters of water per year.

Tesla's European Gigafactory in Grünheide has proven divisive since before it even opened in March 2022.

It employs around 12,000 people in an area that has been eager to attract investment, but there has also been apprehension surrounding Tesla's environmental and labour policies.

Tesla has rejected allegations of causing ecological damage.