Tesla gets OK to build more test cars at unfinished German factory

Stefan Nicola

Tesla Inc. won approval to build more test cars at its unfinished German factory as the U.S. electric-vehicle maker continues to wait for final permitting of the project.

Tesla can test as many as 2,000 EVs at the factory outside Berlin, up from 250 previously, Frauke Zelt, a spokeswoman for the environment ministry in the state of Brandenburg, said Tuesday.

The construction site office at the Tesla Inc. Gigafactory site in Gruenheide, Germany.

Progress at the site in the small town of Gruenheide has been slower than hoped, with backlash from environmental groups concerned about water use and wildlife postponing the start of production by several months. Germany’s Economy Ministry estimates that Tesla is investing around 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) in Gruenheide.

Brandenburg’s environment ministry is supporting efforts to tap additional groundwater reserves in the region and expects test drilling to start in the first half of this year, Zelt said by email.

The Tagesspiegel newspaper, which first reported the approval, said Tesla isn’t allowed to sell the test cars.