One year ago today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the automaker would open a production facility in Germany. Upon accepting an award at the Golden Steering Wheel awards alongside Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, Musk shocked Tesla fans everywhere by revealing its intentions. But what has transpired for the electric automaker since then is a culmination of hard work, dedication, efficiency, and a little bit of luck, and Tesla has been able to erect several buildings of the facility just eleven months after the beginning of the construction process.
November 12, 2019: Elon Musk announces Giga Berlin
“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, for sure. That’s part of the reason why we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany. We are also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin, because Berlin has some of the best art in the world,” Musk said at the Golden Steering Wheel Awards in Germany last year. Musk also stated that the Model Y would be the initial focus of the new Gigafactory’s production lines.
December 2019: Permits and Regulatory Approval
Tesla was working with the local government in Brandenburg to gain regulatory approval to begin ground clearing measures on the 741-acre plot of land that the automaker had purchased for a bargain price. After the land sale price was finalized, along with the permission of local authorities, Tesla could begin making progress on the land.
January 2020: Ground clearing begins
After Tesla received preliminary approval, ground clearing began. While this sparked some controversy and concern from environmental groups, Tesla had already been planning to replace trees in areas surrounding Brandenburg, promising to replant three times as many trees as it had removed from the property. To be clear, the trees that were removed were of “inferior quality,” according to Grünheide Mayor Arne Christiani, as they were used for commercial cardboard production.
April 2020: Groundbreaking imminent, land preparation nears completion
On April 20th, Giga Berlin construction crews worked on the ground leveling and excavation of the land at the site. With only 90 hectares of land free from the trees, Tesla had its work cut out. Just a few days before ground leveling, the final tree was removed from the land, making it completely clear of any trees, all while not harming any wildlife.
May 2020: Foundational work gets approval, begins
Foundational work began appearing at the site in late May. Tesla had to abide by some guidelines to keep drinking water protected and keep the noise down after 10 pm. Aquifers were also installed to protect any groundwater, which was a growing concern among local residents.
June 2020: Structures begin appearing, pillars and beams installed
The main pillars of the Drive Unit facility began appearing at the site, which were transported by train. Additionally, the installation of these pillars began just a few days later. It was the first structural portion of any of Giga Berlin’s facilities to be implemented, and prefabricated construction methods contributed to an accelerated construction effort at the site.
August 2020: Body In White construction begins, Drive Unit facility nears completion
The rapid pace of construction was evident as the Drive Unit facility neared completion, and the Body-in-White facility started construction. With pillars and beams being installed just two months prior for the first time, the rate of construction was certainly impressive. There was still plenty of work to go, however.
September 2020: Elon Musk’s First Visit to Giga Berlin
In a long-overdue visit because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Musk detailed Model Y redesign and battery cell production at the facility. Met with a warm reception, Musk’s first visit to Giga Berlin included visits with local politicians, including vocal supporter Jörg Steinbach, an economic minister.
Today: Where does Giga Berlin’s progress stand?
Currently, both the Drive Unit and Body-In-White facilities are constructed, with interior fittings being installed. Flooring and machinery have yet to make its way into these facilities, but progress is well ahead of schedule. While Tesla still lists Giga Berlin’s starting production date as Summer 2021, some of those in Europe have stated that deliveries could be expected in Q1 or Q2 2021.