Protesters Try to Storm Tesla’s Berlin Plant, Scuffle with Police

germany environment automobile tesla protest
Protesters Try to Storm Tesla’s Berlin PlantJOHN MACDOUGALL - Getty Images
  • Tesla's Berlin-Brandenburg plant was closed on Friday, May 10, as protestor groups marched near the plant and scuffled with police as some attempted to reach the plant building.

  • Environmental and political activist groups have been opposed to Tesla's expansion of its plant near Berlin, citing deforestation and water overuse by the facility.

  • Earlier this year the Berlin-Brandenburg plant was closed for nearly a week after electrical infrastructure near the plant was set on fire, damaging local grid connections.

A number of protesters opposed to Tesla's expansion of its Berlin-Brandenburg plant clashed with German police during an attempt to reach the plant on foot on Friday, May 10, months after the EV maker revealed that it would build additional space for the factory.


The site of Tesla's gigafactory in Berlin-Branderburg has been the site of protests since the start of construction in 2021, which required parts of nearby forests to be removed. There have been several different protest groups that have been involved in demonstrations near the plant, with the latest skirmish with police occurring after a group named Disrupt Tesla, along with others, massed several hundred activists and attempted to get through several layers of fences to reach the plant's building.

Several protesters and police were injured, but some of the protest marches near the plant took place without incident.

"Protesters did not manage to break through the fenceline. There are still 2 intact fence lines all around," the Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Work at the plant had been canceled on Friday, May 10, ahead of the planned rally dubbed Disrupt Tesla Action Days, as police readied for clashes with activists.

"Why are they not jailed for breaking and entering?" Musk wrote on his social media platform.

Some protesters carried signs calling attention to alleged deforestation, river pollution, and water privatization by the plant, while also calling attention to water shortages in the region. Other protester groups voiced anti-capitalist messages.

Tesla had faced considerable pushback, mostly for environmental reasons, from local groups during the plant's construction, which took place during the early months of the pandemic. The automaker also had difficulty obtaining several permits from the local government as the plant neared completion.

'disrupt tesla' activists seek stop to tesla factory expansion
Some groups of activists scuffled with police, amid a heavy security presence near the plant, but did not actually reach the buildings.Maryam Majd - Getty Images

"But the construction of an electric car factory is yesterday's policy: the cars roll off the assembly line, the employees are exploited, the climate targets are torn down and in the end everyone is stuck in traffic jams again," Ole Becker, a spokesperson for Disrupt Tesla, wrote in a statement.

The EV maker has plans for the Berlin-Brandenburg gigafactory to produce some 1 million cars per year, which is about three times its current rate of production. Prior to its completion, Teslas for the European market had been exported from the US and from Gigafactory Shanghai.

"Most recently, the majority of Grünheide residents spoke out against the planned expansion of the Tesla factory in a community survey," the group Disrupt Tesla said in a statement.

However, the construction of the Berlin gigafactory took place during a period of rapid growth in EV demand, which is now considered to be waning and has already prompted dramatic cost-cutting measures by Tesla.

The EV maker now faces increased competition in Europe from German as well as Chinese brands.

Weeks earlier the Tesla CEO pointed out that Tesla's vehicles are not powered by fossil fuels, arguing against the logic of protesters opposing the plant on environmental grounds.

"Something super weird is going on, as Tesla was the *only* car company attacked!" Musk wrote on X on Friday, May 10, in response to a user's comment.

In the aftermath of Friday's march near the plant, police have cleared out some of the protesters' tents in the woods near the plant.

An arson attack on electrical infrastructure near the plant in early March that cut off power to the plant for nearly a week is being investigated by German authorities. But local police haven't made an attempt to completely clear out the woods of protesters' encampments near the plant, which are now quite extensive.

The plant's downtime due to the arson attack, which also cut off power to nearby communities, contributed to a drop in Tesla's production in the first quarter of 2024, and was noted in its quarterly report.

Will Tesla be able to maintain its popularity in Europe in the coming years, as Chinese brands continue to make their way to the continent? Let us know in the comments below.