Tesla Berlin gigafactory goes dark after alleged eco-sabotage

Left-wing extremist group claims responsibility, says goal is to 'bring Tesla to its knees'

An alleged arson attack at a power substation outside Berlin has knocked Tesla's nearby gigafactory offline, and a left-wing activist group is claiming that disrupting Tesla was their entire intent.

Multiple news sources in Germany have reported the incident and cited German police's belief that the fire was suspected to be arson. Michael Stübgen, interior minister for the German state of Brandenburg, where the gigafactory is located and the fire took place, has likewise called the fire "a perfidious arson attack" that damaged a high-voltage power line so badly it cut off power to both the Tesla factory and surrounding towns.

"If the initial findings are confirmed, this will be a perfidious attack on our electricity infrastructure," Stübgen said in a statement today. "Thousands of people were cut off from basic services and put in danger."

Stübgen added that, while arson is suspected, the perpetrators are unknown, "so I would warn against hasty speculation."

While authorities have yet to confirm the nature of the incident, the left-wing extremist Volcano Group claimed responsibility in an alleged post to German alternative news site Kontrapolis. The post accused Tesla of eating up "earth, resources, people [and] labor" and called Tesla owner Elon Musk a "technofascist" whose "green capitalism" is "a totalitarian technological attack on society."

"Our goal with our sabotage is to cause the largest possible blackout of the Gigafactory. We have ruled out endangering our lives and those of other people," Volcano Group said in the post. "The shutdown of production in the automotive industry is the beginning of the end of a world of destruction."

It's not clear how long the factory or other locals will be without power, but if Volcano Group is responsible and its claims are accurate, they were aiming for maximum damage and repair difficulty at the substation.

Tesla didn't respond to questions for this story.

Tesla spark causes inevitable fire

The arson attack may be an extreme step, yet opposition to Tesla's gigafactory in Grünheide isn't new.

The company had been planning to expand operations at the factory, which would necessitate knocking down a forest neighboring the current factory, but Grünheide residents have opposed the plan.

Residents voted last month against a motion to allow Tesla to clear the forest in a bid to double production capacity at the plant. The vote was nonbinding, however, and environmental activists have since constructed a protest camp in the forest in a bid to prevent its destruction if Tesla and local authorities proceed with their plan.

According to the BBC, some locals have joined the protesters in the forest. Whether those same locals will remain sympathetic after an arson attack knocked out their electricity may be a bigger ask. ®

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