Tesla Berlin Is Back Online after Arson Fire Caused Power Outage

Jackson Wheeler
6 Min Read

  • Tesla’s Berlin-Brandenburg factory regained power late on Monday, March 11, after a week-long outage caused by a suspected arson attack.
  • An activist group has taken credit for the fire that damaged an electrical pylon outside the plant, cutting power to the factory, requiring extensive repairs.
  • German authorities are investigating the fire that caused the outage, as activist groups continue to oppose Tesla’s presence in Brandenburg.

Tesla’s Berlin-Brandenburg plant has begun receiving power again late on Monday, after an outage following last week’s suspected arson attack that is being investigated by German authorities.

The plant, located just west of Berlin and Potsdam, as well as nearby communities suffered a widespread power outage last week after a fire is believed to have been set to a high-voltage pylon that caused heavy damage to power lines, requiring large pieces of electrical infrastructure to be replaced.

Civil engineering teams responded to the incident alongside fire crews, working long hours to reestablish the high-voltage connection. Power to residential homes nearby had been restored earlier last week.

Still, the outage and the accompanying production halt is believed to have cost Tesla over 100 million euros due to the downtime.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had criticized the logic behind the attack in comments on his social media platform.

A group of activists calling themselves Vulkangruppe, or Volcano Group, had taken credit for the fire on the day of the incident. German authorities had downplayed the early claims of responsibility but now believe the letter sent by the group to be an authentic claim.

germany environment automobile tesla protest

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Protests against Tesla’s presence in Brandenburg have continued since the plant opened in March 2022.

A wider issue, one that has not been overlooked as the German media covered the event, is the fact that several activist groups had been camped in the forest next to the Tesla Gigafactory for quite some time—since the factory opened in March 2022—building treehouses and other encampments near the site.

Some of activists have protested the Tesla plant’s alleged effect on groundwater and forest health in the area, while others have voiced anti-capitalist messages.

The various activist groups and local residents have had interactions with local police from time to time, but activists had not been permanently evicted from the forest by police.

Tesla has plans to expand the Gigafactory site in the future, which has already drawn ire from environmental groups and some local residents who had opposed the initial construction of the Gigafactory Berlin plant.

It it not known just what kind of new security measures the state of Brandenburg will enact in the wake of the fire at the pylon, but Brandenburg’s Minister of the Interior Michael Stübgen highlighted the incident in comments on March 8.

“We also have to strategically reposition ourselves as a state government: We need a joint state crisis team in which all ministries are involved with their expertise,” Stübgen said in a statement. “The arson attack earlier this week also showed how important it is to better protect our critical infrastructure from attacks. This is an important part of civil protection, for which the states and the federal government share responsibility.”

protests against tesla factory expansion plan in germany

Anadolu//Getty Images

Groups of activists have been protesting Tesla’s presence in Brandenburg since before the plant opened in March 2022.

However, authorities did not indicate if any new measures have been taken that will prevent such an attack from happening again.

During a Brandenburg government meeting, other members of the state cabinet noted that the state employs over 100 fire detection sensors in the forests of the state.

“If a column of smoke above the treetops is detected by the forest fire early detection sensors, the forestry authority informs the fire department control center, which then immediately alerts the emergency services,” Minister Axel Vogel noted during a Brandenburg government conference on March 8.

Still, the response to the pylon fire was not seen as a failure of Brandenburg state firefighting efforts. The crews were able to extinguish the blaze soon after it was spotted.

Tesla’s stock price dropped last week after news of the attack on the electrical infrastructure, but the company has not said so far just how many cars were not produced as a result of the downtime.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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