Tesla shares slip 4.5% after suspected arson attack halts production at Berlin gigafactory

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Tesla’ logo is seen on the Tesla factory building in Berlin, Germany on February 22, 2024. In the southeastern outskirts of Berlin, within the Grunheide district, local residents are expressing opposition to the expansion plans of the first automobile factory of US electric car manufacturer, Tesla in Europe. 

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Tesla shares fell in early trade Tuesday after the carmaker’s gigafactory near Berlin was forced to halt production due to a suspected arson attack at a nearby electricity substation.

The facility is likely to be without power for several days and production is not expected to resume this week, Tesla’s Berlin factory head said, according to a Reuters report. CNBC has contacted Tesla for comment.

Tesla shares were 4.5% lower at 10:25 a.m. in New York.

In a statement posted to social media platform X, Tesla said an arson attack on the public power grid was aimed at the company. It said no one was injured and it plans to “restart the factory as soon as possible.”

Brandenburg police told CNBC earlier Tuesday that the incident looked like arson and it was investigating who is responsible.

Left-wing extremists the “Volcano Group” claimed responsibility for the attack in a letter posted to alternative news site Kontrapolis. “We sabotaged Tesla today,” it said, according to a Google translation, before denouncing the electric vehicle maker’s professed green credentials. CNBC could not independently verify the letter.

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

Tesla’s Gruenheide factory is located southeast of the German capital Berlin. Its expansion plans for the plant have come up against fierce opposition.

The U.S. carmaker aims to double its capacity to 100 gigawatt hours of battery production and 1 million cars per year. However, last month locals voted down plans to raze nearby trees to make way for the enlarged plant.

Environmental activists began occupying a forest close to Tesla’s Gruenheide plant last week in protest to the expansion plans. The occupation began late Wednesday, with demonstrators building a dozen treehouses across the wooded area.

The campout is expected to last one week, although a spokeswomen for the “Stop Tesla” campaign group told DW Sunday that “the longer the occupation lasts the better.”

In 2021, far-left activists claimed responsibility for a fire that broke out at Tesla’s Gruenheide site, which was then under construction. The Volcano Group also claimed responsibility for that attack.

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