Musk humiliated after choosing Germany over UK as Britain a ‘lucrative market after all’

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The Tesla CEO continues to face delays in opening a Gigafactory in Berlin over red tape. As well as being held up by challenges from environmental groups, delays in the approval process by regional and national agencies, and the carmaker’s own revisions to the plans have caused a headache for Mr Musk. He may now be coming to terms with the realisation he made the wrong choice, according to James Morris, the editor of niche electric vehicle publication Which EV.

He said: “You do have to wonder if Elon Musk is considering it a rather bitter pill dealing with the bureaucracy that he has faced setting up the Gigafactory in Berlin.

“Even when the plant opens, this is likely to continue, looking at past history in Europe.

“Perhaps, as the EV market continues to grow, local UK manufacturing could end up back on the table.

“Brexit or no Brexit, the UK is still a very lucrative automotive market after all.”

Mr Musk has already vented his frustration on Twitter over the delays, reacting angrily several times, including the most recent which came after activists called for another round of discussions before the plant can open.

It comes after the technology mogul snubbed Brexit Britain.

He told trade magazine Auto Express in 2019 that uncertainty over the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU “made it too risky” to establish its European battery facility in the country.

He added that his decision was influenced by Germany’s strong track record in engineering.

But a number of EU acts were influential in shaping the system of environmental law in Germany, which has caused delays over concerns about water usage and pollution.

The UK has in the past been the preferred location for the manufacturing of non-European car brands as it had direct access to the EU, but with looser labour laws.

That is why various Japanese brands like Toyota allegedly selected the UK as the perfect spot for a manufacturing base.

Back in 1992, Britain was even dubbed the “Japanese aircraft carrier floating off the coast of Europe” by Jacques Calvet, who was then head of PSA Group, the biggest automaker in France at that time (and now part of Stellantis).

And while the direct aspect to the EU market has gone due to Brexit, perhaps why Mr Musk swerved plans, the EU inspires considerable red tape in the manufacturing process.

As well as more relaxed labour laws, the UK has also been making exciting movements in the EV space.

Back in August, start-up Britishvolt set up a £2.6billion project that hopes to create 8,000 new jobs and manufacture 30GWh of batteries from 2027, enough for 300,000 EVs a year.

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And the UK also has its own supplies of lithium, a crucial component in most rechargeable battery chemistries, which Cornish Lithium and British Lithium hope to exploit.

This is both from mining and brine, geothermal underground water that is has a high lithium content.

These companies have claimed that there will be enough local lithium to power the entire UK EV fleet.

And Rimac, the electric hypercar maker, also selected the UK as the location for its design office, reportedly because of the home talent in Britain.

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