Tesla and relevant authorities have submitted all the documents necessary for the environmental approval of the Giga Berlin factory, the environment ministry of the German state of Brandenburg confirmed.
While the ministry said on December 22 that the approval process is still ongoing, this means that the last hurdle before the start of production at Gigafactory Berlin has been removed.
Taking that into account, one could expect production to start any minute now. That’s not exactly the case as Brandenburg premier Dietmar Woidke recently suggested a decision might come in early 2022. He couldn’t provide an exact date, though.
"The approval will come at some point. I don't know exactly what day of the week - but it is foreseeable: it will probably be at the beginning of the year.”
Dietmar Woidke, Brandenburg state prime minister
Tesla has repeatedly had to push back the expected opening of the factory due to environmental objections and red tape. CEO Elon Musk has regularly traveled to Germany to check on the plant’s progress and has criticized German bureaucracy for slowing down construction.
Gallery: Tesla Giga Berlin (Tesla Gigafactory 4)
Reuters reports that since Tesla expanded its original proposal to include a battery factory, the construction plans had to undergo a renewed process of public consultation which ended on November 22.
Getting the final building permit depends on the response to all objections raised in that consultation. Currently, Tesla is working on the factory on the basis of preliminary building permits.
In October, Elon Musk said he hoped that the first Model Y electric vehicles could roll off the assembly lines by December 2021 at the latest. That doesn’t seem feasible now, with the best case scenario being January 2021.
German auto industry publication Automobilwoche recently wrote that the green light for the plant is just a formality, even though it may come with some strings attached. It remains to be seen if that will be the case and what conditions (if any) authorities will impose.
What’s certain is that starting production at Giga Berlin is essential for Tesla’s expansion in Europe and its global operations, since it will free up production capacity at other factories.