Elon Musk visited Tesla 'gigafactory' site alongside Armin Laschet
Tesla, Inc. co-founder Elon Musk met with Germany's front-runner candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet on Friday at the electric automaker's "Gigafactory" construction site near Berlin.
The billionaire said he hopes to begin production at the Gruenheide facility in October.
Tesla had initially planned to begin manufacturing in July, but legal problems and issues with permitting led to delays.
"We’re looking forward to hopefully getting the approval to make the first cars, maybe in October if we’re fortunate," Musk told reporters.
"Giga Berlin-Brandenburg county fair & factory tour on 9 October!" the SpaceX founder later tweeted, noting that while there would be priority access for Berlin and Brandenburg residents it would be open to the general public.
Laschet, the center-right Union bloc's candidate to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel in the country's September election, thanked Musk for his business in Germany.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) chairman reportedly also suggested that German laws should be changed to complicate the efforts of those not directly impacted by the factory's construction to file legal complaints against it.
That said, victims of communism in East Germany have criticized the decision to allocate a subsidy of nearly $10 million to Tesla for Gigafactory infrastructure costs from a trust fund managing what remains of the regime’s fortune.
In response to a Teslarati tweet citing a report saying public opposition to the plant was declining, Musk wrote Wednesday: "It's gonna be awesome,"
Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Thursday that Merkel would step in to assist Laschet for an Aug. 21 campaign event as he continues to sink in the polls, with the Social Democrats and the Greens not far behind.
Laschet, the front-runner and also the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, has been in hot water lately and has been forced to apologize — once for failing to credit a source in his 2009 book about immigration and just days later after being seen laughing as Merkel delivered a statement on the devastating floods in western Germany that killed more than 200 people.