In a series of tweets on Monday, Elon Musk casually stated that Tesla’s “leading choice” for the site of its Europe Gigafactory is Germany. According to Musk, the facility would probably be built somewhere on the German-French border, near the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) countries.
Germany is a leading choice for Europe. Perhaps on the German-French border makes sense, near the Benelux countries
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2018
A Gigafactory in Europe has been in Musk’s radar for some time now. References to the facility being built in the region were teased by Musk back in late 2016, after the company announced its acquisition of Grohmann Engineering. Grohmann Engineering, now known as Tesla Grohmann Automation, is based in Prüm, Germany, which makes it strategically located for any facility that Tesla builds near the German-French border. With the robotics company nearby, Tesla would be able to scale the manufacturing capabilities of its Europe Gigafactory with relative ease.
Several areas in Germany close to the Benelux countries actually have thriving car industries. Baden-Württemberg, for one, is home to facilities owned by legacy automakers such as AMG, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Audi. Apart from being the third-largest state in Germany, Baden-Württemberg is also one of the regions in the country with the highest density of electric cars and EV charging infrastructure. Baden-Württemberg is also home to a good number of academic institutions, which could provide Tesla with a sizeable pool of potential employees.
Overall, the prospect of the Europe Gigafactory being set up in Germany stands to benefit Tesla’s customers and other facilities in the region. With the Europe Gigafactory producing battery packs, powertrains, and vehicles, Tesla’s other facilities in the area, such as its Tilburg, Netherlands assembly plant, could increase its capability to roll out electric vehicles.
Ultimately, however, a Gigafactory in Europe would be Tesla’s ticket to saturating the region with competitively-priced vehicles such as the Model 3, and possibly even the Model Y. During Tesla’s Q1 2018 earnings call, Elon Musk noted that all future Gigafactories would be incorporating vehicle production. With its first foray into the mid-sized luxury segment — the Model 3 — already proving to be a formidable competitor in its class in the United States, an aggressive push of the vehicle in Europe could very well put a sizeable dent in the profits of the region’s legacy automakers.
Tesla’s Europe Gigafactory would likely take some time before its construction begins, however. For now, Tesla is focused on establishing the China Gigafactory. The upcoming factory, which will be wholly owned by Tesla thanks to changes in China’s rules for facilities owned by foreign automakers, is expected to be the site where the majority of the Model Y crossover SUV would be produced. Details about the upcoming all-electric crossover SUV have been dropped by Musk during the past few earnings call as well. Back in Q3 2017, Musk asserted that its China facility would not produce the Model S and Model X, but rather, the Model Y and Model 3. During the Q4 2017 call, Musk stated that Tesla would begin investing in the Model Y sometime later in 2018.