Battery gigafactories: Inside Tesla’s high volume battery plant
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German police are investigating whether the fire had a political motive after far-left activists claimed responsibility for it. The fire at Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg early on Wednesday morning damaged several power cables leading to the Tesla site and an area of around 3 square metres, said a spokesman for the LKA state criminal investigation office.
According to the spokesperson, arson was not being ruled out and investigators were examining a letter that circulated on social media today.
The letter, which was published on a radical left platform, said it had cut the power supply to the Tesla site by setting fire to six high-voltage cables above ground.
“Tesla is neither green, ecological nor social,” said the letter, according to the LKA spokesman.
Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO, chose the site near Berlin last year instead of the UK to locate his first European factory, due to “Brexit uncertainty”.
However, his vision for the future of the electric car company may have changed, as he is reportedly considering a move to build a new site at a currently under construction “smart campus” in Somerset, called Gravity.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng appeared to give those plans the green light, stating in March that Somerset “has the manufacturing skill and competence to be able to sustain an excellent gigafactory,” adding that the Government is “considering and looking” at the site.
Mr Musk was first linked with the site after he reportedly flew his private jet to the UK last summer to examine potential locations.
The Government was then said to have urgently sought a “four million square foot site” to accommodate a new Tesla gigafactory, with Gravity “trying to secure the enormous letting”.
Earlier this month, Mr Musk sparked rumours Tesla could start making electric cars in the country as he flew to Britain for a two-day trip.
He then left to visit his new German gigafactory.
On his visit to Germany, Mr Musk complained red tape imposed by Brexit was slowing progress.
He said: “I think there could be less bureaucracy – that would be better.”
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Mr Musk has previously said Brexit could pose too much of a risk for a major investment in the UK.
While it could not be confirmed if Mr Musk’s visit was linked to the search of a car manufacturer, his visit sparked rumours electric cars could be manufactured in Britain.
The Government’s new Office for Investment has called on regional agencies to submit potential locations for a new factory.
Headed by former Barclay’s chairman Lord Grimstone, the investment would help boost Britain’s £80bn car industry.
It is believed regions such as Teesside and the West Midlands are some potential sites covering 250 hectares.
A spokesman for the Department for International Trade, which oversees the Office for Investment, said: “We do not comment on ongoing investment projects.”
Back in March, it was revealed ministers were in talks with Mr Musk to help fix Britain’s broadband blackspots using his Starlink project.
Digital Minister Matt Warman met with the Tesla boss in a bid to work together on the UK’s £5bn Project Gigabit plan.
This project aims to connect the hardest parts of the country to fast broadband.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed the Government was not ruling anything out.
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