Tesla Factory Shut Down by Suspected Arson Attack

Pylon Pyre

A Tesla factory outside Berlin was forced to stop work and evacuate all its employees after a suspected arson attack left the site without power, Reuters reports.

The suspected attack targeted a large electricity pylon in a field near the factory, which was set ablaze early Tuesday morning.

Police said that the fire didn't spread to or damage the building, but that the burning of the pylon also cut off power to the wider region, according to The New York Times.

A Tesla spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that work had been halted and that all employees had safely been evacuated. It's unclear when production will resume.

Taking Credit

Police said that the perpetrators haven't been officially identified, but Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel reports that a left-wing activist organization called "Vulkangruppe," or Volcano Group, had claimed responsibility for the arson attack in a lengthy letter sent to the paper.

"We sabotaged Tesla," an online version of the letter stated, as translated by Reuters. "Tesla consumes earth, resources, people, workers and in return spits out 6,000 SUVs, killer cars and monster trucks each week."

Authorities said they are working on confirming the letter's authenticity, Reuters reported. According to NYT, activists under the name "Vulkangruppe" also claimed to be behind another attack on the factory's construction site in 2021.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to the news of the attack's alleged perpetrators, condemning their actions.

"These are either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or they're puppets of those who don't have good environmental goals," Musk posted on X, formerly Twitter. "Stopping production of electric vehicles, rather than fossil fuel vehicles, ist extrem dumm."

Tree Tutelage

The Tesla factory, officially called Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, has been the subject of controversy since it opened two years ago. It's the electric vehicle automaker's first and only manufacturing site in Europe, and thus plays a pivotal role in the Musk-led company's ambitions in the continent.

As part of its expansion agenda, Tesla plans to double the factory's manufacturing capacity to a million cars per year. Contentiously, that includes clearing 250 acres of nearby forest to make room for additional buildings and a rail yard.

But those ambitions have been met with resistance by locals. In February, residents in the surrounding Grünheide municipality voted overwhelmingly against Tesla's plans to cut down trees for the Gigafactory's expansion.

The vote, however, was nonbinding, which is perhaps why environmental activists still felt compelled to  stage another recent protest. Since last week, according to The Associated Press, between 80 and 100 activists have been camping in the woods that Tesla plans to raze, pitching tents and setting up tree houses. Police said at the time that they didn't feel that they had to take action — but with this suspected arson attack, that may change.

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