Tesla reportedly slams ‘irritating’ approval process for Berlin factory

Gigafactory Berlin
Tesla aims to get its Berlin Gigafactory up and running by July, but it's faced delays from local officials and activists.
  • Tesla sent a letter criticizing the approval process for its upcoming German plant, Bloomberg reported.
  • The company hasn't been granted full approval more than a year after filing an application.
  • Tesla has been building Gigafactory Berlin, which is nearly complete, with provisional permits.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Tesla has had it with the drawn-out approval process for the Gigafactory it is constructing outside of Berlin, Germany.

The electric-car maker blasted the lengthy process in a letter to a regional court in Berlin, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Tesla said it's "particularly irritating" that it hasn't been given a timeframe for final approval 16 months after filing an application, according to the report.

Tesla broke ground on the factory in June 2020 and plans to start building cars there in July 2021. It's been building the plant with provisional permits rather than full approval. If the local government decides not to grant Tesla final approval for some reason - an unlikely scenario given the official backing Tesla has received in Germany thus far - the carmaker would be on the hook for demolishing the plant.

In its letter, Tesla criticized officials for hampering progress in green energy and climate-friendly infrastructure. The automaker is currently the leader in electric-vehicle sales in a global auto market that's still overwhelmingly dominated by combustion-engine cars.

"This discourages necessary investments in clean-energy projects and infrastructure and makes it practically impossible for Germany to achieve its climate goals," Tesla said in the letter, according to Bloomberg.

Read more: How to break into the self-driving industry after college, according to 10 rising stars in the field

A spokesperson for the government in Brandenburg, the state where Tesla is building its factory, told Insider in an email that officials can't legally make a distinction between "climate-friendly and more climate-damaging investments."

The spokesperson added that the Brandenburg State Chancellery has established a task force to accelerate and manage approvals for Tesla's factory.

Construction at Gigafactory Berlin has hit numerous snags since it started in 2020. In December, German media reported that Tesla had to halt construction after missing a deadline to make a €100 million (roughly $120 million) security deposit. Tesla has also sparred with environmentalists over deforestation and water usage, and may soon face off with Germany's largest union.

Gigafactory Berlin is crucial for Tesla's European strategy, and the carmaker plans to eventually assemble 500,000 cars there annually. The expanded capacity will be a key advantage as Tesla looks to stave off increasingly strong rivals in the EV space, the most threatening of which is widely considered to be Germany's Volkswagen.

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