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Musk's Tesla manufacturing unit celebration in Berlin attracts followers and protests

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk watches as he visits the construction site of Tesla's Gigafactory in Grünheide near Berlin on May 17, 2021. REUTERS / Michele Tantussi

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By Nadine Schimroszik

GRUENHEIDE, Germany (Reuters) – Tesla fans flocked to the automaker's new factory near Berlin on Saturday, where CEO Elon Musk hosted a festival-style festival to celebrate the site's upcoming opening.

Musk hopes to get the green light in the coming weeks to start production at the site, which will peak at 500,000 battery electric vehicles (BEV) annually – more than double the German BEV production in 2020.

While Tesla (NASDAQ 🙂 said that Germany as a location will bring its e-mobility goals significantly closer, some locals and environmental groups are dissatisfied with Musk's approach, which they believe contradicts German business culture.

"I would tell him to stop making electric cars and go to Mars," said Manu Hoyer, who led a small protest by locals who oppose the project on environmental grounds and said it will pollute drinking water.

Tesla has also presented plans to invest 5 billion euros (5.8 billion US dollars) in a battery plant with 50 GWh capacity next to the site, surpassing the planned 40 GWh capacity site of Volkswagen (DE 🙂 in Salzgitter.

It offered 9,000 tickets for the festival, with locals from the state of Brandenburg being preferred.

"Giga Berlin-Brandenburg Fun Party today!" Musk tweeted in German shortly after the event started and then joked with a Twitter follower (NYSE 🙂 who responded to correct his German.

Musk is slated to perform at the event, which has redesigned the grounds for the day with sprawling music stages, booming speakers, and a ferris wheel.

"Look, mom! A Tesla," shouted an excited nine-year-old Emil, one of many children who was standing in line with his parents waiting for a 90-minute factory tour.

"This day is unique," said the self-proclaimed Tesla fan Fred Schroeder. “The Tesla factory in Germany is being opened to the public for the first time. This is a very special day. "

The final consultation on public concerns about the site will end on October 14th, after which the Ministry of the Environment will decide on rejection or approval.

Brandenburg's Minister of Economic Affairs puts the chances of approval at 95%.

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