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Tesla starts European invasion

Giga automation: Tesla is planning another Gigafactory for battery and car production, this time in Europe.

German automation company acquisition kicks off Tesla’s European play

10 Nov 2016

AS EUROPEAN motor manufacturers plot new electric models to counter the Tesla groundswell, the American disrupter is planning to step right into the lion’s den by establishing European manufacturing and research bases.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk yesterday announced his company would have up to three factories in Europe, including a so-called Gigafactory for both battery and car production like the one being established in Nevada.

The Tesla European plans were revealed in Germany where Mr Musk announced the purchase of manufacturing automation specialist Grohmann Engineering.

To be known as Tesla Grohmann Automation, the German company has been acquired to help Tesla build state-of-the-art automated factories while also serving as the initial base for Tesla Advanced Automation in Germany.

Tesla promised an extra 1000 jobs in Germany over the next two years, with more sites to come.

Mr Musk said the location in Europe of “Gigafactory 2” had yet to be decided, along with any timeline.

But he said it would be one of up to three manufacturing bases in Europe for Tesla batteries and cars.

The financial arrangements for the Grohmann deal were undisclosed. It is subject to scrutiny by German authorities, but the parties hope to seal the deal early in 2017.

According to Tesla’s blog, automation is a key to the high-volume factories required for a sustainable future.

The company has already increased car production at its original Fremont factory in California by 400 per cent in four years.

It hopes to turn out up to 90,000 vehicles this year, but with the Gigafactory coming on stream with the new, more affordable Tesla 3, it plans to expand production to 500,000 units by 2018.

“As the machine that builds the machine, our factories are so important that we believe they will ultimately deserve an order of magnitude more attention in engineering than what they produce,” Tesla said in a statement.

“At very high production volumes, the factory becomes more of a product than the product itself.”

Tesla said that with the help of Grohmann Engineering, its new factories would be the most advanced in the world.

“Combined with our California and Michigan engineering facilities, as well as other locations to follow, we believe the result will yield exponential improvements in the speed and quality of production, while substantially reducing the capital expenditures required per vehicle,” it said.

At the recent Paris motor show, several European manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, showed off electric car concepts that they say will take the fight up to Tesla by 2020.

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