Elon Musk visits a Tesla plant near Berlin as production resumes after a suspected arson attack

People walk to the Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. Power has been restored to electric car manufacturer Tesla's factory near Berlin about a week after an outage believed to have been caused by arson, a network operator says. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

People walk to the Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. Power has been restored to electric car manufacturer Tesla’s factory near Berlin about a week after an outage believed to have been caused by arson, a network operator says. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

GRUENHEIDE, Germany (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited the electric car maker’s first European plant Wednesday as production resumed at the factory just outside Berlin about a week after a suspected arson attack cut its power supply.

Musk was expected at a “team huddle” with employees at the plant in the Gruenheide municipality, employee council chief Michaela Schmitz told regional broadcaster RBB’s Inforadio channel. Reporters at the scene could see him arriving from a distance.

Production at Tesla’s plant in Gruenheide came to a standstill on Tuesday last week. Tens of thousands of residents, nearby hospitals, nursing homes and a big logistics center for a German grocery chain were also initially affected.

The electricity supply to the plant was restored on Monday evening. Schmitz said that, after machines were checked and started up, “the early shift can begin (work) again this morning.” She added: “People are glad to be able to come back to work.”

Authorities in the state of Brandenburg, where the plant is located, have said they suspect that someone deliberately set fire to a high-voltage transmission line on an electricity pylon.

A far-left organization calling itself the Volcano Group said it was behind the fire, accusing Tesla of “extreme exploitation conditions” and calling for the “complete destruction of the gigafactory.” The German federal prosecutor’s office took over the investigation, citing an initial suspicion that a terrorist organization may have been involved in the attack.

Tesla opened the factory in March 2022, launching a challenge to German automakers on their home turf.

The power outage came as environmental activists have been protesting in a forest near the plant against plans to expand the facility.

The company now wants to add a freight depot, warehouses and a kindergarten. Those plans would entail felling more than 100 hectares (247 acres) of forest. That has drawn opposition from environmentalists and some other local groups, who also worry about possible effects on the area’s water supply.

About 12,500 people work at the plant.

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