Tesla criticizes slow approval process for German factory

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Tesla Inc. has criticized German bureaucracy and the slow final approval process for its nearly completed factory just outside of Berlin.

The U.S. automaker’s first European car plant is scheduled to open in Gruenheide, Brandenburg, this summer.

Tesla said it was “irritating” that 16 months following submission of its approval application, there is still no timetable for issuing a final permit, which is handled by the Brandenburg state’s environmental office.

A Tesla statement, seen by the German Press Association, said the automaker wants to see a “fast track” process for environmentally friendly industrial and transportation projects, arguing the production of electric cars offsets the environment impact made by building the factory.

The statement said the “most glaring problem” is that current procedures and laws treat projects that combat climate change and those that accelerate it as the same.

“The German permitting framework for industrial and infrastructure projects, as well as for land use planning, is in direct contrast to the urgency needed to plan and implement such projects to combat climate change,” the statement said.

The final approval needed from the state of Brandenburg to bring the factory online has been repeatedly delayed, most recently in March, when the deadline passed with no explanation.

The opening is planned for this July, just over a year after construction on the massive plant began.

The final approval would clear the way for Tesla to move in the 12,000 workers planned for the location, and start production of the 500,000 vehicles a year that the automaker plans to build at the facility including the Model 3, Model Y and a possible compact hatchback designed for Europe.

Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Brandenburg’s economics minister, Joerg Steinbach said he hoped the environmental authorities do not throw the factory project off course.

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