April 20, 2024

Less than a week after an anti-fascist group forced a shutdown at Tesla’s only factory in Germany by setting a nearby electricity transmission tower on fire, operations are poised to resume ahead of schedule.

Alexander Montebaur, the managing director of German energy supply company E.Dis AG, said repairs on the tower near Steinfurt, Germany, were moving faster than expected, according to a post on LinkedIn. If work on Monday proceeds as planned, Montebaur said there is a chance that Tesla’s facility may be resupplied with energy in the evening.

That accelerated timeline would be a significant boon for Tesla, which had initially aimed to resume operations on Monday. However, due to issues repairing the sabotaged 98-foot tower, production was expected to be suspended until the end of the week.

Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg’s senior director, Andre Thierig, said Tuesday that he expects the incident to cost a “high nine-figure amount” if resolved by Monday.

The gigafactory usually makes 375,000 Model Y SUVs annually — or between 1,300 and 1,400 each day — which sell for about €45,00 ($49,000). That comes out to roughly €60 million ($65.6 million) lost sales per day.

Deutsche Bank analysts said on Monday that they expect Tesla’s earnings for the first three months of 2024 to miss Wall Street’s expectations, citing increased costs from the low-margin Cybertruck and weakening global demand for electric vehicles. They also expect fewer deliveries for the first quarter.

“The slower ramp up in Model 3 in the U.S. and earlier factory shut down, as well as the recent arson attack at the Berlin facility, will impact factory efficiency gains,” Deutsche Bank said in a note to investors.

What led to the shutdown in Germany?

An entity that identifies itself as a far-left group named “Vulkangruppe” — “Volcano Group” — claimed responsibility for the March 6 arson and called Tesla CEO Elon Musk a “technofascist” who “stands for colonialism, land grabbing, and an exacerbation of the climate crisis.” The group also compared Tesla’s workplace practices to China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghur Muslims, many of whom have been pressed into forced labor.

Musk shot back against the group after the incident, writing on X that “These are either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or they’re puppets of those who don’t have good environmental goals.”

Tesla has pushed to expand the factory to include a rail freight depot; however, residents of Grünheide rejected the plans in a non-binding vote due to environmental concerns. The EV maker’s plans would involve cutting down about 100 acres of forest near a nature preserve.

“Afforestation for Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg’s current site is even faster than construction — 300 hectares of high-quality forest (>60 % of hardwood) have been planted,” Rohan Patel, Tesla’s vice president for public policy and business development, said on X after the March 6 incident. 

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