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Way clear for Tesla to buy Berlin factory site

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Frankfurt am Main (AFP)

German regional lawmakers gave the green light Thursday for electric carmaker Tesla to buy land just outside Berlin for its first European factory.

"The Gigafactory investment project has taken a big step forward" with the positive vote from the Brandenburg parliament's finance committee, regional finance minister Katrin Lange said.

The contract for the 300-hectare plot in Grueneheide, east of Berlin, calls for a purchase price of 40.9 million euros ($45.5 million), although that figure could yet be revised and Tesla's board has yet to give its final OK.

Tesla chief Elon Musk aims to begin churning out the firm's Model Y SUV and Model 3 sedan as soon as 2021 in the German capital region, ultimately producing 500,000 cars per year.

The idiosyncratic billionaire will hope his project does not run into the delays that have kept the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport nearby shuttered for close to a decade after its originally scheduled opening date.

Brandenburg, a state surrounding Berlin, has high hopes that Tesla's touchdown could bring thousands of high quality jobs.

Like other states in Germany's former communist east, the region's economy still lags behind the more prosperous west.

Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel reported this week that bomb disposal teams are already combing the woods on Tesla's future plot for leftover World War II munitions.

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