German Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier spoke freely about his support for Tesla’s presence in the European country in an interview with a German media outlet this weekend. Altmaier proved optimistic about the upcoming facility, stating that Gigafactory 4 will likely benefit Germany as a whole.
“If the plant does not come, it would be a damage for all of Germany. If we are asked for help as a ministry, we will be happy to help,” Altmaier said in an interview with Tagesspiegel.
Musk announced Tesla’s plan to bring a Gigafactory to the town of Brandenburg on November 12 at the Golden Steering Wheel Awards, where the Model 3 won an award for Best Midsize Car of the Year. Brandenburg surrounds the country’s capital of Berlin in the northeast region of Germany.
Speculation of where Gigafactory Europe would ultimately end up was extensive, but it appears that Altmaier may have had some influence on Musk’s decision. “I also explicitly encouraged Elon Musk to make this investment in Germany. At Tesla they understood that anyone who can build and sell cars in Germany can build and sell them anywhere in the world,” he said.
Altmaier has previously said that Tesla and the German government have not yet discussed subsidies for the Silicon Valley-based electric car company. It’s clear that Tesla – if it invests in Germany and creates jobs here, will be treated like all other companies in the automobile and automotive industry,” he said.
Along with the financial benefits of Tesla’s newly-found potential home in Brandenburg, Altmaier expects the electric car company’s presence to accelerate Germany’s transition to clean transportation and fully-autonomous vehicles, something that he believes could reduce the number of accidents the country has on the road.
“This will also result in less fuel being used and there being less traffic jams and impairments. I believe that it is crucial for the location whether the first practical model for autonomous driving will be launched in the USA, China or Germany,” said Altmaier.
While many German government officials have been vocally optimistic about Tesla and its upcoming facility, Altmaier seems to be one of the company’s more ardent supporters. With support of people within the country’s political system, Tesla will be able to expand its business faster in Germany, perhaps similar to how the company and its Gigafactory 3 in China. They will not be given exclusive benefits that other carmakers don’t have, but Altmaier recognizes the company is leading the way in the electric car industry.
“I want us to be as good and even better in the area of e-mobility than we were in the classic drive technologies,” he said.
Tesla’s construction of Gigafactory 4 in Brandenburg is expected to begin in January 2020, with the initial production of the Model Y crossover to start in early 2021.
H/T Alex Voigt