BERLIN -- From flashing lights and booming speakers to sprawling stages and a Ferris wheel, Tesla's factory near Berlin was transformed into a festival site for a one-day county fair on Saturday, hosted by CEO Elon Musk.
Musk is hoping to get approval to start production at the site in coming weeks. At its peak the factory will produce 500,000 full-electric vehicles a year -- more than double Germany's production of full EVs in 2020.
The company has also submitted plans to invest 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion) in a battery plant with 50 Gigawatt hours capacity next to the site, outstripping Volkswagen's planned 40 GWh capacity site in Salzgitter, Germany.
Tesla has repeatedly reminded critics that the site will bring Germany significantly closer to achieving its e-mobility goals, but some locals and environmental groups are unhappy with Musk's disruptive approach which they say flies in the face of German business culture.
The latest consultation of public concerns towards the site closes on Oct. 14, after which the environmental ministry will decide whether to reject or approve it. Brandenburg's economy minister has pinned chances of approval at 95 percent.
Visitors attending the Saturday event posted videos from tours of the factory showing production line robots giving choreographed displays. Others highlighted the electric buses on which they were taken to the festival site.
Tesla received approval from local authorities to have 9,000 people on site at a time despite pandemic-related curbs limiting large gatherings to 5,000, after it presented a plan for how it would keep the event COVID safe, authorities said.
Attendees were given a time-slot for a 1.5-hour tour of the factory, and had to provide proof of a negative COVID-test, vaccination or recovery, according to the entry ticket.
"We invite you to discover our factory from along our production lines. You'll have the chance to see how tons of raw metal are melted, pressed and put together to build our Model Y," the ticket said.