Auto expert considers Tesla factory a “marvel”

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The construction site for the new Tesla plant continues to be the subject of a court battle. But auto expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer believes the project is “roughly on schedule” – and assesses what it means for German automakers.

Tesla boss Elon Musk can breathe a sigh of relief – at least somewhat. The U.S. electric manufacturer may partially resume clearing work at its plant under construction in Grünheide near Berlin.

The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg declared late Friday evening that an application for urgent legal protection by nature conservation associations was partially successful in the second instance. This concerns work in peripheral areas. With regard to the remaining parts of the areas to be cleared, however, the complaints would not be successful.

So far, Tesla has been building on the basis of individual provisional permits, and the complete environmental permit from the state of Brandenburg is still pending. Musk is also planning the world’s largest battery factory there. Conservationists and local residents fear negative consequences for the environment.

“This is a marvel for Germany”
Some construction work – for example, the installation of machines in the paint shop – is at a standstill because Tesla failed to provide a security deposit required by the state for possible dismantling costs of 100 million euros on time. Now there is time until January 4. The tree-cutting has already led to legal proceedings.

Industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer expects the project to remain “roughly on schedule” nonetheless. “Elon Musk is on the one hand known for the fact that things and announcements can also be delayed. But in the end, he has always delivered. And he will deliver in Berlin as well.”

He can’t imagine that the approval could fail: “That would make Germany look ridiculous worldwide. Investors we want to attract to Germany would certainly be lost.” There is a rather anti-technology culture in this country, he said. “Now comes someone who achieves great things quickly in a very unconventional way. This is a marvel for Germany.”

Tesla can be an asset for German automakers
Dudenhöffer believes the U.S. electric carmaker’s arrival can be a win-win for German manufacturers as well. “It’s a Christmas present. It’s also good for the carmakers, because if the competitor is on your doorstep, you get more out of it,” the director of the CAR-Center Automotive Research in Duisburg told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

“Even in competition, there are opportunities to do things together, for example, when it comes to autonomous driving or similar innovations. Then it can also be interesting for the automakers to have someone in Germany to help push the systems.”

Musk shows openness to cooperation
The automotive expert does not believe it is likely that the Tesla CEO is looking for possible acquisitions among competitors. “He hasn’t worked with any competitors so far, and he’s trying to keep his technological edge, which he’s convinced of, away from the competition,” Dudenhöffer said.

Musk, he said, is buying small and mid-sized companies that he is convinced know high technology. “If you buy a German carmaker, you buy standard technology. He wouldn’t be that interested.” Musk had generally shown himself open to a merger of Tesla with traditional manufacturers from the industry at the beginning of December – if a competitor proposed it, they would talk about it.

Expert criticizes subsidies for combustion engines and e-cars
Dudenhöffer criticized the promotion of both internal combustion engines and electric cars. “Our policy is structured in such a way that it wants to leave the old jobs and at the same time sell the new car. That’s schizophrenic,” the economist said. The price of diesel and gasoline is only a little more than one euro, he said.

“A real incentive would have been to make gasoline one euro more expensive. Then they wouldn’t have to pay for the subsidy with tax money from a nurse who might not even drive a car.” He is referring to the German government’s purchase premium for e-cars of up to 9,000 euros.

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