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ADMIN 2021. 09. 28.  
   제목: Tesla,s Factory in Berlin Runs Into Activists, Red Tape and Lizards

Tesla,s Factory in Berlin Runs Into Activists, Red Tape and Lizards

Elon Musk wanted to tap German engineering expertise, but may have gotten more local culture than he had bargained for.

By Christopher F. Schuetze and Jack Ewing
July 22, 2021

GR�NHEIDE, Germany � The vast pale gray factory with its own exit on the autobahn, surrounded by a pine forest east of Berlin, was supposed to be producing shiny new Teslas by now. Instead it has become a manifestation of what happens when Silicon Valley ambition collides with German procedure.

The $7 billion factory, which will supply the fast-growing European market for electric cars, is at least six months behind schedule, according to local officials. And Tesla may be even further away from producing cars in Germany because construction has only just begun on an adjacent factory that will supply batteries. Tesla declined to comment.

Tesla뭩 first major assembly plant in Europe has strong support from regional political leaders, but it has been held up by legal challenges from environmental groups, delays in the approval process by regional and national agencies, and the carmaker뭩 own revisions to the plan. Tesla must also find new homes for the site뭩 current residents: a species of lizard, and the kind of snake that likes to eat it.

The slipping start date could prove costly to Tesla. It buys time for competing manufacturers like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Renault to try to establish their own expanding lineups of electric cars.

Tesla뭩 Model 3, which the company imports to Europe from China or the United States, is the top-selling electric vehicle on the continent. But Volkswagen뭩 electric models, like the ID.3 hatchback and ID.4 sport utility vehicle, introduced during the last year, have surpassed Tesla in combined sales, according to Matthias Schmidt, an independent analyst in Berlin who tracks electric car sales in Europe.

Elon Musk during his visit to Germany in May. He appears to have chosen to build a factory there in part because of local expertise in engineering and manufacturing in the car industry.Credit...Michele Tantussi/Reuters

밫he European market is completely hot at the moment,� Mr. Schmidt said. 밆efinitely it뭩 an opportunity missed for Tesla and an opportunity gained for European manufacturers.�

The history of American carmakers that have jumped the Atlantic and found a profitable home in Europe is a thin one. Dealing with troublesome labor unions and difficulties reading the preferences of local car buyers have made Europe a money pit for foreign carmakers.

General Motors in 2017 sold its European Opel and Vauxhall operations to the company now known as Stellantis after decades of losses. Ford of Europe has struggled to arrest a decline in market share, which was a meager 4 percent in May in the European Union. Even Toyota, with 6 percent of the European market, has been unable to match the popularity it enjoys in Asia and the United States.

Elon Musk, Tesla뭩 chief executive, appears to have chosen Germany for the company뭩 third major assembly plant, which will be able to produce an estimated 500,000 vehicles a year, in part because he wanted to tap the expertise in engineering and manufacturing that has allowed Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW to dominate the global market for luxury passenger cars. Last year, he dressed up in a black vest, white shirt and wide-brimmed hat, the traditional dress of a German journeyman builder, for a celebration marking the completion of the factory뭩 girder structure.

The get-up masked a more fundamental clash of cultures at work.

밢n the one hand you have the American enthusiasm for new ideas, for implementing them as quickly as possible,� said Rolf Lindemann, county commissioner of Oder-Spree, the site of the factory. 밢n the other side you have that German approach, to think things through all the way to their conclusion, see the consequences and to try to minimize risks � to analyze the whole thing deeply.�

The delay is nothing new for Tesla, which has a long history of overly optimistic timelines for autonomous driving, electric long-haul trucks and rocket launches.

Excerpts articles from The New York Times


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