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Tesla delivers first cars from Berlin factory

By Matt McFarland, CNN Business

Tesla opened its third assembly plant near Berlin, Germany, and made the first deliveries of its Model Y sedan there Tuesday.

The world’s most valuable automaker will reportedly produce as many as 500,000 vehicles a year at the plant and plans to hire as many as 12,000 workers. The capacity is similar to its existing plants in California and Shanghai. Tesla is building a factory in Austin, Texas, that will open soon.

The added capacity should fuel Tesla’s anticipated growth. The automaker sold 936,000 vehicles in 2021, nearly double the 499,550 it sold in 2020.

Electric vehicles are 10% of motor vehicle sales in Europe, and they outsold diesel cars for the first time in Western Europe in December 2021. Volkswagen has 24% of Europe’s electric vehicle market, and Tesla trails with 13%, according to LMC Automotive. VW sold 452,900 electric vehicles worldwide in 2021, about half of Tesla’s production, but it sold a total of 8.9 million vehicles overall.

Tesla sales have grown dramatically despite the chip shortage, which has hampered automakers. It reported a record profit in 2021.

CEO Elon Musk danced and spoke at the event, calling the factory another step toward a sustainable energy future.

“Tesla will make sure that this is a gemstone for the area, for Germany, for Europe and for the world,” Musk said. “You should have hope in the future. This [climate] problem will be solved and this factory is a major step in that direction. So believe in the future.”

German chancellor Olaf Scholz attended and spoke at the event. He described the factory on Twitter as a way to become carbon neutral.

Tesla originally announced the factory in 2019. It has said that in 2022 it is focused on ramping up production and increasing output at its existing factories.

However, it won’t be delivering the long-awaited Cybertruck, Roadster or Semi this year. The automaker’s stock is down 21% this year as inflation, the ongoing pandemic, rising interest rates, and the war in Ukraine have impacted the markets.

Anna Cooban contributed to this report.

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