Climate protesters try to break into Tesla’s Germany factory, multiple people arrested


Police confront environmental activists in a forest near the Tesla Gigafactory electric car factory near Gruenheide, Germany, May 10, 2024.

Axel Schmidt | Getty Images

Climate protesters angry about Tesla’s plans to expand its Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory in Germany tried to break into the plant on Friday, according to a statement from local police.

“Multiple unauthorized people are trying to enter the ground of the Tesla factory,” Brandenburg police said via X Friday. “We are in the process of preventing this.”

“The situation is dynamic,” a Brandenburg police spokesperson told CNBC Friday, adding that there have been multiple roadblocks in the area due to the demonstrations.

A Tesla spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Since Monday, a camp has been set up near the Tesla grounds at its Brandenburg plant, with participation increasing since Wednesday and peaking on a German bank holiday Thursday, police said.

Police confront environmental activists in a forest near Tesla’s German Gigafactory, May 10, 2024.

Axel Schmidt | Getty Images

Protest gatherings were planned for Friday, one stationary near the Tesla factory grounds and another involving a procession from the camp, the Brandenburg police spokesperson told CNBC.

However, disruptions ensued, including attempts to breach the Tesla premises and sit-in blockades on roads, leading to roadblocks, the spokesperson said.

Protesters also occupied a nearby airfield in the Neuhardenberg municipality, lighting pyrotechnics and blocking access roads, according to the police.

Police intervened, leading to multiple arrests and instances of force. The police operation involved support from neighboring states and national forces, the spokesperson added.

CNN reported on Wednesday that Tesla asked its workers to stay home rather than come into the factory Friday due to concerns over the protests surrounding its Brandenburg plant.

André Thierig, a senior manufacturing director at the Tesla factory, confirmed via X on Tuesday that the electric car maker was shuttering production Friday in a “one-day planned production shutdown.”

Tesla is pursuing a major expansion for its battery and car assembly factory in Brandenburg, Germany, about 32 miles south of Berlin.

Police officers guard an access road to the Neuhardenberg airfield. Tesla vehicles produced at the Grünheide plant are temporarily stored on the airfield site.

Patrick Pleul | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Tesla’s planned expansion includes designs for a rail freight depot and storage facilities that could help it avoid reliance on other logistics providers and avoid production pauses due to parts shortages.

Locals in February voted against authorizing the factory expansion. However, the vote was nonbinding and Tesla and local officials still intend to push ahead.

Climate protesters have expressed concerns about Tesla’s plans, which entail cutting down approximately 250 acres of forest in a rural community of fewer than 8,000 residents near a nature conservation area.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously lashed out at protesters targeting Tesla’s German Gigafactory, saying on X in March they’re “either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or they’re puppets of those who don’t have good environmental goals.”

— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report

This article was originally published on CNBC