Elon Musk blames Brexit as Tesla chooses Germany over ‘risky’ UK for Gigafactory

Time 11:44 am, November 13, 2019

TESLA’S boss has said the electric car maker will build its European Gigafactory near Berlin and not in the UK because of unease over Brexit.

During an award ceremony in the German capital, Elon Musk announced that ‘we’ve decided to put the Tesla Gigafactory Europe in the Berlin area’. The company will also set up an engineering and design centre in Berlin, Musk said at the Golden Steering Wheel event.

He wrote on Twitter that the new plant ‘will build batteries, powertrains & vehicles, starting with Model Y’.

The plan is for the factory to be built near Berlin’s new airport, which is just outside the city limits in neighbouring Brandenburg state and due to open in 2020 after years of delays.

‘We definitely need to move faster than the airport, that’s for sure,’ Musk said.

He later told Auto Express – whose sister title Auto Bild held the awards – that Brexit meant the UK wasn’t even considered for the production complex, saying: ‘Brexit [uncertainty] made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK.’

Regional officials in Berlin and Brandenburg welcomed the announcement, which comes as the German government tries to ramp up support for electric cars.

German officials and auto industry leaders agreed last week to increase by half the existing government incentives for electric vehicles with a list price of 40,000 euros (circa £34,300).

The subsidy will also be extended from the end of 2020 to the end of 2025, while the government and industry agreed to aim for 50,000 publicly accessible charging stations nationwide by 2022 as well.

Economy minister Peter Altmaier hailed Tesla’s announcement as further evidence of Germany’s attractiveness as an auto industry location. He called it ‘a milestone in the expansion of electric mobility and battery expertise’.

Last week, German car maker Volkswagen began mass production of its ID.3 electric car.

Speaking alongside Musk at yesterday’s event, VW chief executive Herbert Diess said: ‘I’m happy that Elon is, let’s say, pulling us, but I think the German industry is really now strongly investing, and we will keep you alert.’

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