Arson Attack Shuts Down Tesla Plant Near Berlin

tesla factory standstill after power failure
Arson Attack Shuts Down Tesla Berlin Plantpicture alliance - Getty Images
  • An arson attack near Tesla's Berlin-Brandenburg factory has shut down electrical power to the plant, forcing a production halt that is expected to last several days.

  • The site of the plant has been the focus of protests for years by several environmental groups, including ones that have built camps in the woods near the plant.

  • The production stop is expected to last into next week, with the downtime inflicting a financial toll on the EV maker.

Tesla's sole European plant, located just west of Berlin, is expected to be closed until next week after an arson attack damaged electrical infrastructure near the plant and caused a regional power outage.


The target of the attack were high-voltage lines near the automaker's Berlin-Brandenburg plant, dubbed Giga Berlin, with a far-left group claiming responsibility for the attack and publishing a 2500-word manifesto against the automaker, claiming the factory pollutes the local groundwater, among other alleged transgressions.

"According to current knowledge, unknown perpetrators deliberately set fire to a high-voltage pylon between Steinfurt and Hartmannsdorf in the early morning of March 5th," the Brandenburg Ministry of the Interior said in a statement. "The fire damaged the high-voltage power line so much that the power supply to the surrounding towns and the nearby Tesla factory failed."

Local police are investigating the Tuesday attack, which damaged much of the nearby electrical infrastructure, causing the plant to cease production and for the workers to evacuate.

But authorities did not rush to single out a specific group of activists, even though one that called itself Vulkangruppe, or Volcano Group, took credit for the act online.

The location of the plant had been the site of protests by several environmental groups for quite some time since land clearing for the factory site had begun at the start of the decade, and through the present day as well. A number of environmental groups have been camped in the woods near the plant for months.

tesla factory standstill after power failure
Workers assess damage to high-voltage pylons near the Tesla plant.picture alliance - Getty Images

"These are either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or they're puppets of those who don't have good environmental goals," Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on the social medial platform X in the wake of the attack.

The power outage caused by the fire itself affected more than the Tesla plant, including nearby communities, and triggered an emergency service response.

"Here, thousands of people were cut off from basic services and put in danger," Brandenburg Interior Minister Michael Stübgen said. "The constitutional state will react to such an act of sabotage with the utmost severity. Nothing can be said about the perpetrators yet, so I would warn against hasty speculation."

Other Brandenburg state officials also condemned the arson attack.

The site of the plant, near the city of Brandenburg just west of Berlin and Potsdam, had been the spot of environmental activists even before construction began. Local groups have opposed its location, which had necessitated partial removal of a forest.

German government permits, including those dealing with ground water, had also slowed down the factory's launch by several months, with Elon Musk at one point calling the process "bureaucratic hell."

"Stopping production of electric vehicles, rather than fossil-fuel vehicles, ist extrem dumm," Musk wrote on the social media platform X, switching to German for the last part.

The work stoppage at the plant as a result of the fire is expected to last at least until early next week, inflicting a significant financial hit to the automaker.