A report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) this week has sparked excitement and confusion among the media and politicians, especially in Germany. The business newspaper wrote on Wednesday that Tesla has “paused” its plans to produce batteries at Germany’s Giga plant in favor of more in the United States, a move that has echoed in several other reports, some in more dramatic terms. In turn, Brandenburg Minister of Economy, Jörg Steinbach, reassured that neither German battery machines nor their German employees are affected by the new US order of priority. But according to a YouTuber who was aware of Tesla’s plans prior to the WSJ and the rest of the outside world, that’s not entirely true either.
YouTuber with Tesla internal mail
Already on Tuesday, the channel Electrified, which deals primarily with Tesla, reported on an internal email about it. As the new Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) creates a huge opportunity for battery production in the USA, the Gigafactory in Texas is “accelerated with all resources,” Tesla management wrote to employees according to the YouTuber. On the other hand, this means a “temporary delay” for the production of batteries at the German Giga plant.
Despite the channel having about 86,000 subscribers, the news did not spread, and Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal report, which contained less factual information, came as a huge surprise. In reaction, the Brandenburg Department of Economic Affairs said it had received preliminary information including a reprioritization of Tesla’s individual process steps in Grunheide. Minister Steinbach himself reiterated in Tagesspiegel on Thursday that changes to the battery schedule cannot be ruled out, but expansion of both equipment and personnel will continue unaffected.
Battery machines for Texas instead of Grünheide
RBB said the same on Friday, citing Tesla’s environment, but with an added twist that the company wants to not only continue building its German battery plant, but even speed it up. On the other hand, it was argued that the faster increase in Texas must also be supported by individuals who would otherwise have been working on it in Germany.
So the situation remained puzzling, but on Friday, Electrified posted another video relaying additional details from Tesla Mail – and correcting German media reports on that basis. Contrary to the statement made by the Minister of Economy, the expansion of the battery in Grünheide is not fully going as planned, the YouTuber explains, and he cannot confirm that nothing has changed in staff planning. Steinbach’s statement is correct, of course, that Tesla does not want to dismantle any battery production machines already installed in Grünheide and send to the United States. But according to Electrified, the technology that has yet to be offloaded or delivered is now very well being transferred to Texas.
German Tesla factory to supply electrodes
However, the depiction that Tesla also communicated with batteries in Germany and possibly faster than previously planned also seems correct: “Commissioning and ramping up electrode production continue at full speed,” Electrified quotes from an internal email under the subheading “What are we going to do in Berlin”. However, the added value of the battery at the German Gigafactory should initially end up with the electrodes: they should then be sent to Texas and used there only to produce the batteries. Starting in 2023, companies in the United States can receive tax credits of $35 per kilowatt-hour of battery production and an additional $10 for battery packs through an IRA.
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