Tesla told its factory workers in Germany to stay home as more protests emerged

Tesla told its factory workers in Germany to stay home as more protests emerged

Tesla will close its factory near Berlin to all workers on Friday when crowds are expected to gather outside its doors to protest the planned expansion.

Friday’s shutdown of the factory’s production line was announced in January, CNN affiliate RTL reported late Tuesday, citing a Tesla ( TSLA ) spokesperson. But with the protests “in mind,” the electric vehicle maker has decided that all other workers at the factory should also stay at home, RTL said.

The assembly line usually runs from Monday to Friday. Thursday is a public holiday in Germany, making Friday a “bridge day” between the holiday and the weekend.

André Thierig, senior director of manufacturing at the Tesla factory, confirmed in a post on X Tuesday that there will be a “one-day planned production shutdown” on Friday.

People opposed to Elon Musk’s plan to double the production capacity of Tesla’s only factory in Europe are planning a four-day protest, starting Wednesday.

Disrupt, a coalition of self-proclaimed anti-capitalist protest groups, argued that the expansion would require the clearing of surrounding forested areas and would affect local water supplies.

Production at the factory will stop after Wednesday’s late shift and resume on Sunday’s night shift, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported, citing a company email sent to workers.

“Without your manager’s clear instructions and authority, access to the site or factory will not be possible,” Tesla’s email reportedly said.

Police in the German state of Brandenburg, where the plant is located, said on Wednesday that they were preparing for an “extensive” operation, noting that they would be supported by the federal police and several other state police forces.

“Disruptive protests and criminal acts typical of this type of gathering cannot be ruled out,” they said in a statement. “Therefore, the police are prepared for both peaceful and non-peaceful outcomes. If a crime is committed, the police will intervene firmly.”

The massive plant – located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of the German capital – is now capable of producing more than 375,000 electric cars a year.

In February, local residents voted against a proposal to clear enough forest for Tesla to expand the site, leaving it up to local authorities to decide how to proceed, according to Reuters.

Disrupt said on its website that “electric cars are not the solution” to phasing out carbon-emitting combustion engines.

“When producing electric cars, the use of resources creates a huge ecological footprint and in turn drives a global climate disaster,” the group said, pointing to the environmental damage caused by the mining of lithium, the main metal in EV batteries.

Ole Becker, a spokesman for the anti-Tesla Disrupt activity, said the protest will have “many phases.” That includes demonstrations in front of the factory, as well as talks and panel discussions close to the site.

While it’s possible “we’ll see some civil disobedience” from protesters, this will happen spontaneously and not part of Disrupt’s plans, he told CNN.

No buses or trains will run to and from the factory between Thursday and Sunday because of the expected protests, Handelsblatt quoted Tesla’s email as saying.

Tesla has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

This is the second time in as many months that protesters have disrupted operations at the factory.

In early March, a group of left-wing activists claimed responsibility for an attack that set fire to high-voltage electricity pylons that transmit power to factories. The incident forced Tesla to close the facility for a week.

The activists, who call themselves the “Volcano Group,” wrote in a letter published on the alternative German media website Kontrapolis that they had “sabotaged” the plant because it “eats the Earth, resources, people, labor and spits out 6,000 SUVs, killer cars and monster trucks every week.”

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