Tesla started clearing a forest at Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg in Germany on October 28 as it seeks to expand activities at the site.
According to Bloomberg, a Tesla Germany spokesman confirmed a report by the Maerkische Onlinezeitung that the automaker is working on an application to increase the storage and logistics capacity at its site in Grünheide.
The company representative added that Tesla already started the process of clearing some 70 hectares (173 acres) of pine forest necessary for the expansion north of the site. Tesla currently owns around 300 hectares (741 acres) of land on the property.
Joerg Steinbach, the economy minister for the state of Brandenburg, where the plant is located, said he was pleased that Tesla will proceed. "This is a good sign: Tesla is focusing on Brandenburg. Our country is developing into a place of modern mobility," he tweeted.
Tesla previously said it plans to expand the Giga Berlin factory by about 100 hectares to add a freight yard to bolster the site's rail links, warehouse to stockpile parts, a train station, training center, and a kindergarten.
However, it’s unclear how long it will take for the expansion to complete, given Tesla's experience so far with local authorities and environmental protection organizations that led to months of bureaucratic setbacks and delays of the Giga Berlin vehicle assembly plant.
Major additions require approvals from environmental authorities and a consultation process with locals, some of whom have complained the site uses too much water and threatens wildlife.
Gallery: Tesla Giga Berlin (Tesla Gigafactory 4)
The automaker currently makes 2,000 Tesla Model Y EVs per week at Giga Berlin, and aims to produce 5,000 units per week by the first quarter of 2023. The company already employs 7,000 workers at the site, but the number of employees is expected to increase to 12,000 in the next phase. The plant's full production capacity is estimated at 500,000 vehicles per year.
Tesla is also building a 50 gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery factory next to the vehicle assembly plant, and construction is well advanced. However, the automaker said in September that it is prioritizing battery manufacturing in the United States and wants to ramp up battery manufacturing in Austin, Texas, faster than planned because of the prospect of tax incentives. This decision could delay the opening of the Giga Berlin battery facility.