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Tesla’s nearly built Berlin Gigafactory shown off in snowy drone video

Tesla chief Elon Musk has tweeted a drone video showing the nearly finished Giga Berlin factory, the electric car company’s first such facility in Europe.

The video (below), shot recently in snowy conditions, reveals the huge scale of the plant on the 92-hectare site. In another tweet, Musk said that the factory’s large footprint may give it a “flat” appearance in the aerial footage, but in reality, the building is up to five stories high in places.

Snow falling on Giga Berlin

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 4, 2021

Situated 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of the German capital, the factory will employ around 10,000 people and produce the Model Y crossover for the European market, as well as batteries, battery packs, and powertrains for Tesla vehicles. It might also include a “mega rave cave,” if Musk follows through on one of his earlier suggestions.

Tesla wants to fire up the production line later this year, but it could be delayed after a court last month forced it to suspend building work in response to claims by environmental protesters that it could damage the habitat of nearby smooth snakes and sand lizards, both of which are protected species. However, a more recent report suggested Tesla may soon receive the permission it needs to complete the building work and get the facility up and running.

Tesla faced similar protests in early 2020 as it began to clear the site ahead of construction work. Environmentalists persuaded judges to order a suspension of the work to allow time for the proper assessment of potential damage to nearby wildlife and water reserves. The court rejected the protesters’ claims and allowed the clearance work to continue, though last month’s court decision shows that the protestors remain keen to protect parts of the site that are yet to be developed.

Tesla considered various locations for its first European Gigafactory before Musk announced Berlin, Germany, as the preferred choice.

“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, for sure — that’s part of the reason why we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany,” Musk said at the time, adding, “We are also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin because Berlin has some of the best art in the world.”

Tesla currently has three Gigafactory factories in operation — two in the U.S. and one in Shanghai, China. Another one currently under construction in Austin, Texas, will produce Tesla’s Cybertruck and semi-truck, as well as the Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, when it comes online toward the end of this year.

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