German Industry Sounds Alarm on Infrastructure Security After Tesla Attack – Insurance Journal

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German industry called for better protection of critical infrastructure on Wednesday after a suspected arson attack by leftist activists on Tesla’s gigafactory outside Berlin halted production until further notice.

Security officials cleared the Tesla site on Tuesday after what CEO Elon Musk called an “extremely dumb” suspected arson attack nearby left it without power.

The German government has championed big-ticket foreign investments to spur growth in Europe’s largest economy, which faces recession.

“Infrastructure is the lifeline of the German economy,” said Martin Wansleben, managing director of the DIHK Chambers of Industry and Commerce.

“Unfortunately, the protection of this infrastructure urgently needs to be adapted to the changed security situation. It is essential that investors continue to see Germany as a safe country,” he said, adding cybersecurity was also a concern.

A local DIHK branch near the site said safety was essential in attracting global investors and that the attack was not just on Tesla.

“It is an attack on all companies that want to invest in Brandenburg and Germany,” President of the East Brandenburg Chambers of Commerce Carsten Christ said. “I believe the state has an urgent duty to protect our economy from this.”

The government, which has in the last year trumpeted investments from Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC and Intel among others, cautioned against “alarmism” and said this was just one instance.

DHL CEO Tobias Meyer said it was not the first such incident in Germany, but that the group had confidence in the authorities.

RWE and E.ON, which operate crucial German energy infrastructure, both said safety and security were priorities.

A unit of grid operator E.ON will release an assessment at around 1700 CET (1600 GMT) of damage to a power pylon that caused the outage.

It is unclear when Tesla will be able to resume production after the incident that the U.S. electric vehicle manufacturer estimates will cause losses in the high hundreds of millions of euros, with 1,000 vehicles left unfinished on Tuesday alone.

The company declined to comment on Wednesday. Tesla shares were trading down 2.6% at 1542 GMT.

Baird said it expected sequentially and meaningfully lower deliveries from Tesla in the first quarter, in part because of the suspected arson attack.

It has lowered its estimates to 421,100 deliveries for the first quarter, compared with Wall Street estimates of 489,000.

The Tesla plant has been a focus for climate protesters who oppose a planned expansion of the site.

German police said they believed a letter purportedly from a far-left organization called the Volcano Group that claimed responsibility for starting a fire that knocked out electricity around Tesla’s factory was authentic.

In a 2019 report, Berlin authorities listed Vulkangruppen, or volcano groups, as left-wing extremist organizations that have targeted cable ducts on railway lines and in some cases radio masts, data lines or company vehicles.

(Additional reporting by Philipp Krach, Andreas Rinke, Matthias Inverardi and Rachel More; writing by Matthias Williams and Madeline Chambers; editing by Jan Harvey and Barbara Lewis)

Photograph: The Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg plant is seen on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)


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