In Germany, environmental protesters march in front of the Tesla factory in Grünheide

More than a thousand environmental protesters demonstrated again on Saturday May 11 against Tesla's plan to expand its electric car factory established since 2022 in Grünheide, around thirty kilometers southeast of Berlin, according to figures from the police

In Germany, environmental protesters march in front of the Tesla factory in Grünheide

More than a thousand environmental protesters demonstrated again on Saturday May 11 against Tesla's plan to expand its electric car factory established since 2022 in Grünheide, around thirty kilometers southeast of Berlin, according to figures from the police.

Accompanied by a large police force, the demonstrators – 2,000, according to the organizers – brandished banners with different inscriptions, such as “For a better life beyond capitalism”, with the drawing of a Tesla car in the process of burn, or “Grünheide says no thanks Tesla.”

Coming from a collective of environmental protection associations, including Extinction Rebellion, NABU and Robin des Bois, the demonstrators began a long weekend of actions on Wednesday, notably establishing a camp not far from the factory.

According to a videographer on site, a few clashes between activists and police took place at the very beginning of the demonstration before calm returned.

“People who live here are losing their livelihoods because they no longer have drinking water, the water quality is deteriorating,” said 49-year-old activist Katja Kühn. “Overall, we also know that we do not need more electric cars, but that we need to think about our mobility in a completely different way,” she added.

Project under pressure

Since February, environmental activists have regularly protested against the Tesla factory expansion project. They call for secure “water supplies” and “real climate protection,” protesting Elon Musk’s “phony capitalist solutions.”

At the beginning of March, the fire on an electricity pylon claimed by a small far-left group shut down the factory for several days. A week after this sabotage, Tesla boss Elon Musk came to “support” the factory employees and attacked the perpetrators of the fire, whom he described as “ecoterrorists”.

On Friday, several demonstrators tried to enter the site of the American manufacturer, but the police pushed them back. A police spokesperson reported injuries on both sides.

The American billionaire wants to expand the Grünheide factory by 170 hectares in order to double production there, to reach one million electric vehicles per year.

This project bristles environmentalists and residents, who are worried about the surrounding forest and the water table, or even an increase in road traffic in the region. A local consultative referendum expressed a 60% refusal.

This gigafactory, Tesla's only one in Europe, already occupies around 300 hectares, on which around 12,000 people work. This is where the Model Y, Tesla’s flagship SUV for the European market, comes from.