If one were to state last year that the pace of Gigafactory Berlin will be faster than the buildout of Gigafactory Shanghai, one would likely have been laughed out of the room. Germany, after all, is not known for incredibly rapid buildouts, as represented by the long delays that have plagued the construction of the now-notorious Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER). Yet the first phase of Giga Berlin stands today, seemingly poised to meet the hyper-aggressive targets set forth by Elon Musk.
Elon Musk has noted that Gigafactory Berlin could start producing the Model Y as early as next year. That’s an insane target, especially following apparent delays during the GF4 site’s tree-clearing period. Yet once the actual construction of Giga Berlin’s Phase 1 area started, the pace of the whole project changed. And not long after, it became evident that Germany could end up pulling off the impossible: it may very well beat China’s already record-setting pace in building Giga Shanghai.
Part of this lies in Tesla’s utilization of prefabricated materials for Gigafactory Berlin, which allows pre-made sections of the facility to be set up quickly. But this is only part of what makes the practical magic happen in Berlin. As shared recently by industry veteran Alex Voigt, a good part of the reason behind Giga Berlin’s stunning pace is due to Tesla’s software-like approach to the project. Thanks to this approach, the company is able to avoid the usual pitfalls of Germany’s construction initiatives.
Local reports point to the factory shell of Giga Berlin’s drive unit facility possibly being completed in less than three weeks. To meet this target, the Berlin staff reportedly communicate on an everyday basis with the company’s US team. These calls require the US team to be awake at around 3-4 a.m. local time, but Tesla nevertheless ensures that it is reachable by the Germany team during their work hours. Interestingly enough, Elon Musk himself is reportedly present in these calls, allowing him to get a clear outlook of Giga Berlin’s day-to-day progress.
Apart from these, Tesla has reportedly adopted a rather unique permit process for Giga Berlin. Instead of doing all permits at once like in traditional German construction projects, Tesla is reportedly using a system where many permits are requested in small steps, starting with a rough first design and moving on from there. This allows the company to work fast, while providing itself with enough space to adjust if it needs to. Voigt noted that this approach shows Tesla’s Silicon Valley roots, with the company pretty much building Giga Berlin like a software program.
Today, the Gigafactory Berlin site is busy with activity, with prefabricated panels being set up and numerous heavy machinery operating in the area. What’s quite remarkable is that Giga Texas, a facility that will likely be even more expansive than Giga Berlin, is moving at a pace that seems to be even faster than the Germany-based site. Gigafactory Texas was only confirmed less than a month ago, but drone flyovers of the Phase 1 zone in Travis County reveal that a leveled section of the area seems to be getting prepared for ground-breaking. Pile drivers have also been spotted on the Giga Texas site.
Watch a recent flyover of the Gigafactory Berlin site in the video below.
H/T Alex Voigt and @GF4Tesla.