Source: Euractiv, 2020-07-02
US electric vehicle specialist Tesla overtook Toyota to become the most valuable car company in the world on Wednesday (1 June), but Elon Musk’s firm also scaled back plans at its future Berlin factory.
Tesla’s market worth topped $208bn yesterday (1 June) after shares jumped 5% on the back of promising forecasts for Q2. Toyota’s stock price continued a gradual decrease, meaning the Japanese company’s worth has dropped to $202bn.
If Tesla is able to turn a profit this quarter, it will mark the first time Musk’s venture has gone four straight periods of landing in the black.
There is still a massive gap in market share between the two companies. Toyota sold 10m cars in 2019, while Tesla managed 367,000, which was a 50% increase on 2018’s output.
Unlike more established marques, the electric vehicle specialist has managed to stave off the worst economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak and its pre-pandemic forecast of 500,000 sales in 2020 has not been downgraded as of yet.
Tesla’s Model 3 has established itself as a motorist favourite, topping the list of best-selling cars for the months of April and June in the United Kingdom. It has also become one of the most popular EVs across all of Europe.
Musk announced in late 2019 that he had chosen a site near Berlin to host Tesla’s newest production site or ‘gigafactory’, beating off competition from other European countries, including the UK.
European sales are limited in part by lack of manufacturing capacity and the import costs associated with shipping cars from US factories. Tense transatlantic trade relations have also pushed the need for a Europe HQ up Tesla’s list of priorities.
Construction hit an impasse earlier in the year when a local court ordered the site to be shut down, pending the resolution of a case brought by an environmental group. The activists opposed tree-felling at the site but a judge ultimately said construction could continue.
Now Tesla wants to stick to its time-frame of starting car production there in July 2021 and, according to local media, is pressing ahead with building the factory’s outer shell despite not yet securing full planning permission.
New documents filed with the local authorities have revealed that the company has scaled back the size of buildings and cancelled plans to assemble batteries at the Berlin site, limiting its role to manufacturing the Model 3, Model Y and other cars in its line-up.
According to estimates, the plant will have a capacity of 100,000 vehicles by the time it is at full capacity.