The site will manufacture the new Tesla Model Y and its batteries. Tesla came from nowhere and beat all the long-established German manufacturers to be a rapidly-growing electric-only car brand. Most recently it has been doing very well with sales of its Model 3 saloon, however UK buyers prefer cars with hatchbacks, and ideally SUVs, rather than saloons with boots. So Tesla will be hoping that the Model Y will be a big success in the UK and in Europe.
To manufacture EVs, you also need batteries, and ideally your own battery production facility, in the form of a Gigafactory, which really needs to be co-located with the car production site to avoid the cost and environmental footprint of transporting 500kg batteries long distances.
Such a site for Tesla is now established in Germany – which is Tesla’s first base in Europe – even against the backdrop of the dominance in the country of the huge Volkswagen Group, as well as BMW and Mercedes.
Tesla’s German Gigafactory can build 500,000 cars per year, and it will also be the largest Gigafactory in Germany, with 50 gigawatt hours of battery capacity – although it will take a while to ramp up production of both vehicles and batteries to these levels.
Tesla spent £4bn on the factory, making it the biggest investment in a German car plant in recent history. The plan is for the factory to eventually employ 12,000 workers.
As well as Tesla now making cars and batteries in Europe, it is continuing to invest in its Supercharger network. While all other car manufacturers primarily rely on third party charge point companies to install chargers, Tesla has been rolling out its Supercharger network ahead of need for many years. The result is large numbers of fast and reliable Tesla Superchargers at UK motorways service areas, in comparison to low numbers of chargers for all other car brands, which have also had reliability challenges over the years. This is another key factor in why so many people buy Teslas.
Here’s Elon Musk expressing his delight with the first batch of Model Ys being handed to their new owners: