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Production at German Tesla factory still on hold after arson attack

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-03-08 04:32

Police officers work next to a damaged pylon after Tesla Gigafactory in Gruenheide near Berlin halted production and was left without power after suspected arson set an electricity pylon ablaze, near Steinfurt, Germany, March 5, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN -- Production at the German Gigafactory Tesla will be interrupted until the end of next week, a longer delay than previously expected, according to the US electric car manufacturer.

On Tuesday, unknown perpetrators set fire to a high-voltage pylon in a field close to the Tesla factory, cutting off the plant and nearby villages from power supply.

Shortly afterward, the left-wing extremist group Vulkangruppe claimed responsibility for the attack in a 2,500-word letter. The group claimed the factory was consuming too many natural resources, which was not sustainable.

"Our state security service considers this letter of confession to be authentic because it contains various details of the attack that can only be known by those who carried it out," Brandenburg's Interior Minister Michael Stuebgen told Deutschlandfunk on Thursday.

Vulkangruppe, meaning volcano group, carried out a previous attack on a power cable at Tesla's construction site in 2021, and several attacks on railroad cable ducts in Berlin, according to Stuebgen.

"The arson attack has cut off power to entire towns, even hospitals, and put people in great danger," said Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on Wednesday on social platform X. "The security authorities are taking decisive action against the scene."

Meanwhile, the extended halt in production is also likely to increase the economic damage for Tesla. The company recently cited damages of several hundred million euros. However, this figure referred to a possible restart of production next Monday.

Despite considerable resistance from environmentalists and local residents, Tesla is seeking to expand its Gigafactory in Gruenheide, which began operating two years ago. Tesla aims to double production from the current interim target of 500,000 cars per year to one million.

In a local referendum, almost two-thirds of citizens rejected Tesla's planned expansion of the plant, which also involves clearing forests. Environmentalists have set up a protest camp in the forest near the plant and erected tree houses.

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