Elon Musk opens Tesla’s first European plant, near Berlin.

The $7 billion plants will eventually produce half a million S.U.V.s a year, the company said.

Tesla officially began making cars in Europe on Tuesday, opening an assembly plant in a critical market where Elon Musk, the chief executive, plans to build 500,000 electric vehicles a year.

Mr. Musk escorted Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and other officials on a tour of the huge, low-slung $7 billion plants just outside Berlin. It was constructed in a little more than two years, a speed that amazed German officials and commentators.

“Electromobility will shape the mobility of the future,” Mr. Scholz said after the tour.

Robert Habeck, the German vice-chancellor, and the country’s economy minister said it was “a special day for the region, a special day also for Germany and a special day for the mobility transformation in Germany.”

He celebrated the day by handing over the first 30 European-built Teslas to customers who had ordered them and been invited to the event. Tesla will build its Model Y sport utility vehicle at the plant.

The plan for the factory, called Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, was first revealed in a surprise announcement by Mr. Musk a little over two years ago, and it overcame a number of legal and political challenges to attain its production certification.

Tesla raced to build the factory and was allowed to proceed after securing only preliminary approvals from government authorities — on the condition that Mr. Musk agreed to tear down the plant and leave the site as he found it if state boards ultimately refused the project. It was a gamble that the carmaker won this month when the authorities approved the production site.

A battery production plant on the property still requires state approval before going live.

The speed with which Tesla built the factory in a country known for its rigid bureaucracy and deliberate planning was a theme during the opening speeches. Just a few miles away sits Berlin’s new airport, which opened two years ago after nearly a decade of delays.

Mr. Habeck started using the phrase “Tesla speed” some weeks ago, and Mr. Scholz said the short construction time would promote Germany as a place to invest.

“Germany can be quick,” he said in his speech.

The project also represents a significant financial investment in the former East German states that since reunification has attracted less major business than the traditional powerhouse states of former West Germany. Jörg Steinbach, the Brandenburg state economics minister, who helped lure Tesla to the region, said: “All of the sudden we’re known. All of a sudden people are making inquiries.”

The 2.4 million-square-foot plant places Tesla in one of the most important electric car markets in the world. European countries have passed laws to phase out internal combustion engines.

And electric cars are increasingly joining the mainstream. More than 20 percent of new cars sold in Europe and Britain in December were powered solely by electricity, data from government agencies showed. Europeans also bought more electric cars than diesel in December; diesel was once the most popular engine option in Europe.

The German site is Tesla’s third major plant, after factories in Fremont, Calif., and Shanghai. Another plant, outside Austin, Texas, is expected to open soon. The new plants are expected to double the company’s production capacity to about two million vehicles a year, according to analysts at Wedbush Securities.

Once it is fully operational, the German plant will employ 12,000 people. Some 3,000 employees already work there, according to Tesla.

Built just 130 miles east of Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, on an old East German Army training site, the plant was also a direct challenge to German carmakers that had been trying to make E.V. inroads.

Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, said that while Tesla was a “thorn in the flesh of German automakers,” its presence in the country could ultimately help lift the entire sector.

“On the one hand, this is the strongest competitor sitting right on the doorstep, but it can also have a motivating and stimulating effect,” he said.

While state and federal governments supported the construction, a number of environmental and civic groups have criticized the factory, especially for its projected water use. Protesters on Tuesday walked around the Tesla site with handwritten signs criticizing Mr. Musk and Tesla. The police blocked an adjacent autobahn after activists climbed onto a road sign and plastered it with their own message: “Cars out.”

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