Tesla might lose the water supply contract as environmental groups in Germany filled a court case. It challenges the license that is to be granted to its water supplier at a hearing next week. On March 4 the hearing will take place in Frankfurt Oder administrative court, a complaint filed by local groups.
The local groups claim that the Brandenburg environmental ministry is going ahead with the license grant to the Wasserverband Strausberg-Erkner(WSE) without carrying out insufficient checks. It is reported that if the group is to win, WSE said that the contract with Tesla will be canceled. The negotiations are expected to begin again on the source of the water supply for the plant, expected a lengthy process. A spokesperson for the court said a decision was expected the day of the hearing. Furthermore, a delay is expected to put another spanner in the works for the production plant as the approval process is reaching its final stages.
Elon Musk had hoped to have the plant – key to his ambitions to conquer the European market where Volkswagen currently holds the upper hand with a 25% share of electric vehicle sales to Tesla’s 13% – up and running six months ago.
Concerns over water supply
Following delays, he said in October last year that he hoped to have it operational by December. The company has not further updated its timetable for the launch. The groups bringing the complaint, Gruene Liga and Nabu, fear the 1.4 million cubic meters of water a year Tesla needs for the plant – akin to the usage of a 30,000-person town – will drain the region of drinking water.
Municipally-run WSE has itself flagged concerns over water supply. While the Tesla plant does not use a particularly large quantity of water – others such as BASF’s battery plant a few hours away use more – the region’s reserves are finite, WSE spokesperson Sandra Ponetsky said. She added, “We are a relatively water-rich country. But we need help from other regions… Which supplier has the capacity to just magic that much water out of a hat in such a short time period?”
The dispute adds to a list of challenges faced by Tesla in recent months. It includes, recalls in China and the United States to scrutiny by U.S. regulators of everything from Musk’s social media posts to accusations of discrimination towards workers. In Germany, WSE made it clear that even if the factory gets approval for the water supply, they won’t be able to expand without importing water from other regions.