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Tesla’s German EV plant poised to get final approval to start production

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Tesla Inc. is poised to get final approval for its factory near Berlin this week, bolstering the carmaker’s push to expand in Europe’s fast-growing electric-vehicle market.

Brandenburg state authorities said they’ll announce their decision Friday at a news conference in Potsdam, with officials including Premier Dietmar Woidke attending.

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The plant has gotten the green light and is expected to start ramping up production soon after clearing some final steps, Handelsblatt reported earlier Thursday, without citing the source of its information.

The long-awaited decision would be a boon to Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who plans to challenge the likes of Volkswagen AG, BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz AG on their home turf just as they broaden their own EV offerings. The facility in one of the world’s most competitive auto markets is designed to eventually make batteries and as many as 500,000 cars a year.

Tesla is expanding in Europe as sales of cars with a plug are taking off. The region invested $113 billion in electrified transport last year, an almost 50 percent jump over 2020, according to BloombergNEF, and its EV market is expected to remain much bigger and more competitive than the US for years to come.

While the plant has been delayed by the pandemic, red tape and environmental opposition, German officials have repeatedly signaled they’re behind the project because it creates thousands of jobs in a region with little heavy industry.

Musk has been on a charm offensive to promote the factory.

The US carmaker still faces hurdles including a legal challenge over water usage that will go to court Friday. Tesla also will need to hire enough workers and deal with Germany’s powerful labor unions.

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