Published on September 12th, 2020 |
by Alex Voigt
September 12th, 2020 by Alex Voigt
A parliament usually only asks an auto company to show up if something went very wrong. Either a financial bailout is needed or another huge scandal happened, like with the diesel cheating devices that polluted the environment and its citizens for years. Why was Tesla invited by the parliament in Brandenburg to provide a presentation at the end of August?
A report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) revealed that 400,000 people die prematurely every year in Europe because of air pollution that is mainly caused by traffic. This is the #1 cause of death in Europe. This report would be a valid reason to invite the gas/diesel car industry to explain how this is possible and what they intend to do to stop it. Instead, Tesla was invited to provide a Giga Berlin presentation to the Brandenburg parliament. To invite any automakers is a rare event, but to invite Tesla, a company that does more for sustainability and the future of mankind than all other auto companies combined, is an odd and unprecedented request.
Giga Berlin is not located in the city-state of Berlin, but in Brandenburg, and its parliament has asked Tesla to present on the project many times. Not a single company, be it small or large, with a new construction site in Brandenburg was asked for such a presentation except Tesla. What did the parliament want?
One reason why companies avoid talking to Parliaments is that they can’t gain anything from it but can lose a lot. Talking to certain politicians is preferred to gain their support. Talking to an entire parliament is often a waste of time — and in Germany you often find 7+ parties seated with different agendas and complex coalitions.
The Brandenburg Parliament is a regional institution, and although the ruling state party and the opposition discuss legislation there, they do not have any influence on the execution of regulations — different authorities make sure everything is happening according to law. For very good reasons, politicians cannot and are not supposed to interfere in company-specific affairs like Tesla’s Giga Berlin construction.
After declining many requests, though, Tesla finally agreed to present the project to the Brandenburg Parliament in the committee on infrastructure. Alexander Riederer, a member of the Giga Berlin project team, had a 20 minute time slot on August 20, 2020. Alexander, who has worked for Tesla for about 2 years now is German but lives in Amsterdam, where Tesla’s European HQ is located. His presentation was recorded and I translated it and commented on the main parts in the video below. It was a unique event. Alexander gave revealing insights into why Tesla decided on the location in Grünheide, which it selected out of more than 100 possible candidates Tesla identified in Europe.
The main 3 reasons why Tesla chose Grünheide out of the 100 options, according to him, were 1) the logistics advantages, because the site is easy to reach by train and road, 2) a supplier base that allows a high degree of supply localization, and 3) a good talent pool, which is a critical element for success. In addition to presenting Tesla and its products to the politicians, who have supposedly never been in a Tesla vehicle, Alexander made the case to expand the existing road and rail infrastructure to enable just-in-time processes and workers to commute to work by bicycle or train in a sustainable way.
The Giga Berlin project is a project German citizens and politicians discuss emotionally and with a lot of drama. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Tesla as a company, its products, and its intentions are expressed daily in Germany, resulting in various reports in the media or demonstrations in Grünheide. Whether it’s the water supply, energy consumption, or a low-quality tree plantation that was cut down, every little step is watched carefully to find something that went wrong.
The interest in the project is high, with controversial opinions about its impact on Germany. Many politicians have realized the extraordinary public interest in Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Giga Berlin factory and try to use it for their benefit. When Elon Musk decided a week ago with short-term notice that he would visit Germany, all the top politicians were suddenly available, as well as Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. Who didn’t want to meet with Musk and enjoy the limelight he walks in?
While all German automakers are again and again falling short with their battery electric vehicles, Tesla is increasing its sales, and with the production facility in Grünheide and an R&D center in Berlin, also its reputation.
The unexpected speed of the construction mutes all naysayers who predicted Tesla would not in a lifetime see construction even started in Germany in 2020. Now we know Tesla will nearly finish the first portion of the gigafactory in the year it started constructing the facility. Since it’s now visible that the construction is going even faster than Giga Shanghai’s, Germany is painfully realizing that the issues it has with large projects are mostly homemade and self-inflicted.
Although it’s embarrassing and humbling for proud German engineers, entrepreneurs, and politicians to see that they needed a US company to show them how to get a factory constructed quickly, it’s a healthy process for a country that used to have a “can’t do” attitude see that transformed into a “can-do” attitude.
Many statements from German politicians about Tesla and Elon Musk are providing revealing insights about that current paradigm shift. In the following video, I translate, comment, and discuss on these for you.
Tesla is now a role model for Germany not only with its products and solutions, but also with its factories. (Related CleanTechnica exclusive on this matter: Elon Musk: “Tesla’s Long-Term Competitive Advantage Will Be Manufacturing.”)
Tesla presents the 🇩🇪 Giga Berlin to the Brandenburg Parliament
Content you won’t find anywhere else!https://t.co/zb59NEVP2Q
— Alex (@alex_avoigt) September 7, 2020
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