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

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.

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.

Image: Police carry an activist from a blockade
Police carry an activist from a blockade, at the access road to Neuhardenberg airfield, in Neuhardenberg, Germany, on Friday.Patrick Pleul / dpa via AP

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.”