Tesla shares deep red: Citizens of Grünheide vote against expansion of the Tesla Gigafactory

The US electric car manufacturer Tesla has encountered rejection from the citizens of Grünheide near Berlin with its plans to expand the factory premises.

After the votes were counted on Tuesday evening, two thirds voted against the development plan.

The community representatives still have to approve the plan – the residents’ vote is not binding for the community council, but it is considered an important milestone. Opponents of expansion described the vote as a great success, while supporters expressed disappointment.

Brandenburg’s Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) also sees the rejection of the planned expansion of the Tesla factory as an opportunity. For the business associations in Berlin and Brandenburg, the vote is a mandate to engage in even more intensive dialogue and provide information about the expansion of the plant.

Hours of tension during the counting of votes

Counting the votes cast from the Grünheide districts of Kienbaum, Kagel, Hangelsberg, Mönchwinkel, Spreeau and Grünheide itself became a game of patience for hours. 5,400 letters had been received by the deadline last Friday. The poll workers had to group them together by voting district and then check the ballot papers for validity. The votes were then counted. After more than six hours, the result was clear: 3,499 people from Grünheide voted against Tesla’s expansion plans, and 1,882 voted for the electric car manufacturer’s expansion plans. The voter turnout was over 70 percent.

What does Tesla plan to do with the expansion of its factory?

In addition to the factory site of around 300 hectares, the company wants to build a freight yard, warehouses and a company kindergarten on an additional 170 hectares. To achieve this, more than 100 hectares of forest will be cleared. Tesla sees great benefits for the region if the development plan were approved. In Tesla’s opinion, freight traffic could be relieved with the factory station. It is also about greater delivery security through storage space. Tesla recently had to suspend car production for around two weeks because parts were missing due to the uncertain situation in the Red Sea.

The mayor will not present a development plan like this

Arne Christiani, mayor of Grünheide, said after the vote that he was not disappointed. That is the vote of the citizens. According to Christiani, he will no longer present the development plan to community representatives in its current form. The consultations would now continue. The next meeting was scheduled for March 14th.

Economics ministers and entrepreneurs see the vote as an opportunity

For Brandenburg’s Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD), the citizens made active use of their democratic options for action with their large participation and vote. He also sees the rejection of the planned expansion of the Tesla factory as an opportunity. “It shows that people’s concerns and fears clearly outweigh them,” Steinbach told the dpa. “Now it is important to find answers to open questions. I also see the voting result as a motivation for the community and Tesla to provide conceptual answers to the concerns that have not yet been resolved in the next few weeks and months.”

Alexander Schirp, general manager of the Berlin-Brandenburg business associations (UVB), explained that the vote was a clear mandate to seek even more intensive discussions and to provide information about the expansion of the plant. This particularly applies to the plan to handle a large part of the plant’s logistics by rail in the future. Since production began, Tesla has ensured unprecedented economic dynamism in the capital region, with thousands of additional jobs and hundreds of training positions, said Schirp. The car manufacturer must remain a blueprint for large-scale projects to be implemented quickly in Germany.

Citizens’ initiatives see victory for nature conservation

Citizens’ initiatives see the no to the expansion of the Tesla factory as a historic victory for forest and water protection – not only in Grünheide, but also for all of Brandenburg and Berlin, as Manu Hoyer from the Grünheide citizens’ initiative explains. After the vote, the “Turn off the tap from Tesla” coalition called on the local council to vote against the expansion. “The no shows that undemocratic exemptions and the scandalous overlooking of environmental and labor violations are now over,” said Lou Winters from the alliance.

Tesla supporters see the vote as a missed opportunity

Web designer Tobias Lindh from Erkner supports Tesla’s plans to expand the factory. For him, the settlement means economic progress. “We need the switch to e-mobility. This is necessary in the face of climate change.” There are strict environmental regulations for Tesla, also because the factory is located in a drinking water protection area.

“With the establishment of the electric car manufacturer Tesla, we can help shape the future and the transformation away from the combustion engine,” says a woman from Grünheide, who is disappointed by the many no votes. The expansion of the infrastructure by Tesla is also beneficial for the region. “How often can Germany afford to alienate such large investors as Tesla?”

In NASDAQ trading, Tesla shares ultimately lost 3.10 percent to $193.76.


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