(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks on as he visits the construction site of Tesla’s gigafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
BERLIN (Reuters) -Flashing lights, booming speakers, sprawling stages and a Ferris wheel have transformed Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s car factory near Berlin into a county fair for a one-day festival on Saturday to be hosted by CEO Elon Musk.
The festival, expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors, with locals from Brandenburg state given priority, started at 10am local time (0800 GMT) but will go on late into the night, with bands and DJs due to “keep the party going,” the official event website said.
“Giga Berlin-Brandenburg fun party today!” Musk tweeted in German shortly after it began, and then joked with a Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) follower who replied to correct his German.
Musk hopes in coming weeks to get the green light to start production at the site, which at its peak will produce 500,000 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) a year – more than double Germany’s BEV production in 2020.
The company has also submitted plans to invest 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion) in a battery plant with 50 GWh capacity next to the site, outstripping Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p)’s planned 40GWh capacity site in Salzgitter.
While Tesla has repeatedly said the site will bring Germany significantly closer to achieving its e-mobility goals, some locals and environmental groups are unhappy with the Tesla CEO’s disruptive approach which they say flies in the face of German business culture.
The latest consultation on public concerns towards the site closes on October 14, after which the environmental ministry will decide whether to reject or approve it. Brandenburg’s economy minister has pinned chances of approval at 95%.
Drone footage published on Twitter in the 24 hours before the start showed preparations for the festival were well under way, with sound checks of booming techno beats, lighting tests and festival tents set up next to rows of Tesla cars.
Visitors attending the event posted videos from tours of the factory showing production line robots giving choreographed displays. Others highlighted the electric buses on which they were taken to the festival site.
Musk, however, has not yet made an appearance.
Tesla received approval from local authorities to have 9,000 people on site at a time despite pandemic-related curbs limiting large gatherings to 5,000, after it presented a plan for how it would keep the event COVID safe, authorities said.
Attendees were given a time-slot for a 1.5-hour tour of the factory, and must provide proof of a negative COVID-test, vaccination or recovery, according to the entry ticket.
“We invite you to discover our factory from along our production lines. You’ll have the chance to see how tons of raw metal are melted, pressed and put together to build our Model Y,” the ticket reads.
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Elon Musk throws a party at Tesla’s factory near Berlin