Tesla plans to rebuild almost completed Gigafactory near Berlin: New 11,000-page application for factory in Grünheide

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The guessing game about how big the battery factory at the Grünheid e-car plant will be has come to an end. Now the plans are on display – with some redactions.

The Gigafactory of Tesla in Grünheide is considered the biggest threat to the German automotive industry: the US electric carmaker led by Elon Musk has now re-planned the configuration of the already almost finished factory, in which 500,000 vehicles per year are to roll off the production line, and expanded it to include a battery cell factory.

Since Friday, the new application, which runs to more than 11,000 pages, can be viewed at town halls in the Oder-Spree region or online. It is the third interpretation. The project had been launched in November 2019. According to the application, Tesla absolutely wants to start production before the end of 2021.

“For each month of construction delay, it can be assumed that CO2 emissions in Germany and Europe will be more than one megaton higher,” a document says.

An overview of the most important changes at the Gigafactory and previously unknown details.

Battery cell production

The largest battery factory in the world, as Elon Musk had once announced for “Giga Berlin,” it will not be after all: but it should be the largest in Europe, with the capacity of 50 gigawatt hours (GWh) stated for the first time, “which corresponds to a cell count of 500 million cells per year,” as the application states.

That’s enough to equip the 500,000 cars produced here, even more. By comparison, the VW Group is planning a new battery cell factory in Salzgitter, which is not expected to reach ine capacity of 40 GWh for several years. Tesla will produce a new generation of battery cells using a dry-electrode process, a kind of coated foil that is then wound into a cell.

All of this is secret; details about process chains and materials are partially blacked out in the publicly filed documents, as are costs. Tesla probably fears industrial espionage. The battery factory hall, which has been the subject of much speculation, is already under construction – applied for and approved as a “warehouse”. Tesla will apply for a change of use.

Car factory, reconfigured

The car factory is about 80 percent complete, Brandenburg’s Minister of Economics Jörg Steinbach (SPD) recently said. Now, a lot of things are going to change: A plastics production facility, where mirrors and bumper parts are manufactured, is being added. The vertical range of manufacture and thus the added value will be increased, it is said.

Another new feature is that the press shop is being expanded, which will require a further 1,180 concrete piles to be driven into the ground in addition to the 550 for the existing foundation to ensure stability. Body-in-white production will be streamlined from two production lines to one – with the same output of 10,000 units per week.

The previously planned test track with rattletracks to detect rattling noises will be dropped: Instead, the quality check of the Teslas “made in Grünheide” will be carried out hydraulically. More supplier vehicles will roll into Grünheide, 1515 trucks a day.

No higher water consumption

The combined car and battery factory will manage with the maximum 1.44 million cubic meters of water per year previously planned for the car plant alone, the supply of which has been contractually guaranteed by the Strausberg-Erkner Water Association (WSE). For precipitation water, the concept no longer relies on centralized but decentralized infiltration.

The roadmap

The application may be read for one month, and objections may be submitted to the State Environmental Agency for another month. Last time, there were 416, and finally there was a showdown between critics, citizens’ initiatives and environmental associations with Tesla in the Erkner town hall. As a precaution, the State Environmental Agency has scheduled a new hearing for September 13 in Erkner.

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