Tesla bemoans ‘irritating’ approval process for Berlin plant

Tesla bemoans ‘irritating’ approval process for Berlin plant
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(April 8): Tesla Inc. slammed Germany’s lengthy approval process for the car factory it’s building near Berlin, saying the country should cut red tape to speed up projects that help fight climate change.

It’s “particularly irritating” that there’s still no clear schedule for final approval for the plant 16 months after Tesla filed the application, the company said in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News. Tesla has almost finished constructing the facility and aims to start production in July.

Tesla has “learned first hand that obstacles in Germany’s approval processes are slowing down the necessary industrial transformation,” the company said in the letter addressed to a regional court in Berlin. “This discourages necessary investments in clean-energy projects and infrastructure and makes it practically impossible for Germany to achieve its climate goals.”

Brandenburg’s Environment Ministry, which is in charge of the approval process, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla’s plant in the small town of Gruenheide is key for the U.S. carmaker. It underpins Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s European expansion plans just as Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG broaden their EV lineups.

For Germany, the project promises new jobs in the midst of an otherwise-bleak time, with European car sales still slumping amid the pandemic. Under pressure for being slow to pick up on the electric-car shift, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government extended a welcoming hand to Musk, with Economy Minister Peter Altmaier promising the CEO whatever assistance is needed to get the facility up and running.

Tesla’s 10-page letter, which is dated April 7, is in support of a lawsuit by an environmental group seeking greater climate-protection efforts in Europe’s biggest economy. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported on the letter earlier.

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