- tesla's berlin-brandenburg plant in germany is getting ready for model y production, which is expected to start in a matter of weeks.
- the berlin plant will eventually start producing the model y with the structural 4680 pack, offering a boost in range and a drop in weight for the crossover.
- the plant has faced protests from environmental groups that criticized deforestation on the site, in addition to other environmental effects.
tesla hosted a massive party over the weekend at its new berlin-brandenburg gigafactory, few weeks ahead of the expected start of model y production, with tesla ceo elon musk in attendance. amid the oktoberfest vibe, the ceo gave a speech onstage as visitors toured the mostly finished plant, getting a few glimpses of the assembly line and even mockups demonstrating the long-awaited structural battery pack for the 4680 cells, which tesla is expected to start putting into its cars in the near future.
the plant itself has yet to get the green light from german authorities, following months of what musk had earlier called "bureaucratic hell," but it's worth noting that construction of the plant was largely undertaken during the pandemic, making its completion an impressive milestone for the company's aspirations in europe.
the plant faced protests from environmental groups due to the location of the site in a forested area near berlin—a somewhat unusual location for a car plant in western europe. the 740-acre site required forest removal efforts, raising questions about other suitable sites around berlin that did not come with such requirements. opponents of the plant also cited the expected impact on water usage at the plant, as well as other effects on wildlife in the deforested area.
production at the plant is expected to start in a matter of weeks, perhaps as early as the end of november, with the model y scheduled to begin rolling off the assembly line. but production is not expected to hit its stride until about a year from now, with elon musk citing an expected eventual production volume of 5000 to 10,000 vehicles per week.
the 4680 battery cell packs, touted during the company's battery day in 2020, are promised to reduce vehicle weight due to fewer parts, while also serving up greater energy density and a longer range for the vehicles. once production starts with these structural battery packs, the model y is expected to get a significant range boost while also shedding some weight in the process.
however, the scheduled production start of the model y in berlin and the first appearance of the 4680 cells may not coincide, as the company has hinted in recent months. besides the model y, the upcoming cybertruck is also expected to receive this battery pack, with the automaker indicating over the summer that the pack's readiness has delayed the start of cybertruck production in austin, texas. it's quite possible that model y production in berlin may proceed for some time with the existing battery pack design.
the upcoming completion of the berlin-brandenburg plant will eventually allow tesla to rely mostly on local production of cars, instead of importing cars from the shanghai factory or the u.s. but for now, exports from shanghai will continue and batteries will be sourced from its facilities in china as well, until a battery plant in europe is fully up and running.