Elon Musk visits Tesla plant near Berlin after suspected arson attack

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk visited the electric car maker’s first European plant as production resumed at the factory just outside Berlin, a week after a suspected arson attack cut its power supply.

Mr Musk was expected at a “team huddle” with employees at the plant in the Gruenheide municipality, employee council chief Michaela Schmitz told regional broadcaster RBB’s Inforadio channel.

Reporters at the scene could see him arriving from a distance and he turned their way, shouting: “Deutschland rocks.”

Production at Tesla’s plant in Gruenheide came to a standstill on Tuesday last week. Tens of thousands of residents, nearby hospitals, nursing homes and a big logistics centre for a German grocery chain were also initially affected.

The electricity supply to the plant was restored on Monday evening. Ms Schmitz said that, after machines were checked and started up, “the early shift can begin (work) again this morning”.

“People are glad to be able to come back to work,” she added.

Elon Musk
Mr Musk addressed workers in Gruenheide near Berlin (AP)

A far-left organisation calling itself the Volcano Group said it was behind the fire, accusing Tesla of “extreme exploitation conditions” and calling for the “complete destruction of the gigafactory”.

The German federal prosecutor’s office took over the investigation, citing an initial suspicion that a terrorist organisation may have been involved in the attack.

Tesla opened the factory in March 2022, launching a challenge to German carmakers on their home turf.
The power outage came as environmental activists have been protesting in a forest near the plant against plans to expand the facility.

Elon Musk and factory manager
Mr Musk and Andre Thierig, manager of the Tesla Gigafactory (AP)

That has drawn opposition from environmentalists and some other local groups, who also worry about possible effects on the area’s water supply.

Asked by reporters from a distance whether he was still planning to expand the Tesla factory in Berlin, Mr Musk answered, “absolutely”.

About 12,500 people work at the factory.

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