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Tesla’s TSLA-Q European Gigafactory near Berlin has halted work until further notice after what CEO Elon Musk called an “extremely dumb” suspected arson attack nearby left it without power on Tuesday.

The attack southeast of the German capital set an electricity pylon close to the site ablaze, but the fire did not spread to the Tesla facility – the U.S. electric vehicle maker’s first manufacturing plant in Europe.

It has however shuttered production at least until early next week, the company said.

The outage will cost Tesla estimated losses in the high hundred of millions of euros, with 1,000 vehicles left unfinished on Tuesday alone.

A company official was noncommittal on whether this would affect plans to double capacity at the site, but condemned what he saw as negative sentiment towards it.

Emergency services have extinguished the blaze, and power to the surrounding communities has mostly been restored.

Joerg Steinbach, the economy minister of Brandenburg, the German state where Tesla’s plant is based, condemned the suspected attack as having “terrorist markings”, and hitting tens of thousands of people.

“This includes hospitals, homes for the elderly, where people may also be dependent on oxygen supply or similar, which is electricity-based,” he said at a briefing outside the factory.

The Tesla site, which employs around 12,500 people, was evacuated and most employees sent home. Tesla shares were down 3% at 1522 GMT.

Local media published a letter purportedly from a far-left activist organization called the Volcano Group that claimed responsibility for the incident, in a 2,500-word attack on Tesla and its billionaire CEO Musk.

Police said they were aware of the letter, which was signed “Agua De Pau”, the name of a volcanic mountain in the Azores, and said they were checking its authenticity.

“These are either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or they’re puppets of those who don’t have good environmental goals,” Musk said on X.

“Stopping production of electric vehicles, rather than fossil fuel vehicles, ist extrem dumm,” he said, using the German for “extremely dumb”.

The attack was the latest setback for Tesla, which has had a bumpy ride in Europe of late, facing union pressure for collective bargaining agreements in the Nordics and supply disruptions as a result of attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

Germany has championed new big-ticket foreign investments at a time when Europe’s largest economy is facing recession and grappling with higher inflation and weaker foreign demand.

“If a left-wing extremist motive is confirmed, then this is further evidence that the left-wing extremist scene does not shy away from attacks on critical energy infrastructure,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

“The consequences can affect thousands of completely uninvolved people, as they do today. This shows enormous criminal energy.”

Police are investigating the possible arson attack in the area around the plant, which has been the focus of environmental protests since it was launched by Musk two years ago.

“We are shocked by what happened today. It’s the second direct attack on power supply to the factory and there was a third attack on the railway nearby. We are very concerned,” said plant head Andre Thierig.

He said the factory had managed to safely conduct an emergency shutdown, involving decanting molten aluminium from its smelters before it solidified.

Brandenburg state has documented previous arson attacks by far-left activists, including at a Tesla power supply site at Gruenheide in May 2021.

“We sabotaged Tesla,” read the letter about Tuesday’s incident, posted on website, describing the attack as a gift marking International Women’s Day on March 8.

“Tesla consumes earth, resources, people, workers, and in return spits out 6,000 SUVs, killer cars and monster trucks each week.”

Tesla’s ambitions to expand its plant, which has a capacity to produce around 500,000 cars a year, hit a roadblock when local residents voted down a motion to fell trees to enlarge it.

The U.S. EV maker wants to double the site’s capacity to 100 gigawatt hours of battery production and 1 million cars per year, setting it up to dominate the European market.

The plant’s output ramp-up has slowed, though the carmaker produced 6,000 cars in a week for the first time in January.

Steinbach said his government would reassess the current situation with regards to climate activists occupying the forest near the Tesla plant.

The initiative, named “Tesla Stoppen”, had struck a deal with the local government which assured them they would able to stay in the forest until mid-March on condition that they did not make fires or leave behind garbage, German media reported.

Between 80 and 100 people were currently taking part in the action, a spokesperson for the protesters said, adding that they planned to stay there for several weeks. (

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