Engineering prowess proves to be a winner for eastern Germany

Intel chooses Magdeburg for its new European hub as the city is between massive Tesla and Volkswagen plants

Three decades after Helmut Kohl secured German unification with promises of "blossoming landscapes" something significant is happening in the former East Germany.

Next week Elon Musk's Tesla will open its much-hyped "gigafactory" in the state of Brandenburg, east of Berlin. Ahead of that Intel nipped in this week with a plan to invest three times as much as the capricious billionaire, this time in Magdeburg.

Look at a map of Germany and you can see why Intel chose the eastern city for its new European hub. It is located less than two hours east from the new Tesla factory outside Berlin – and one hour west to Wolfsburg, production home for Volkswagen.

Regardless of who wins the car crown in the 21st century – Germany’s 85-year-old “people’s car” giant or the US electric car disrupter – Intel will be there, ready with the chips that already drive modern mobility.


Tesla has plans to produce 500,000 cars annually in its new German plant while VW’s annual European production is nearing four million vehicles.

The federal envoy for eastern regions, Carsten Schneider, who sits two floors below Olaf Scholz in the chancellery, predicted the investment will "redraw the economic map" of Germany.

If anything it offers a chance for eastern German regions to finally regain the engineering prowess lost in the destruction of the second World War and strangled by subsequent post-war decades of East German nationalisation and state-run production.

Ahead of the war engineers in Saxony-Anhalt gave the world the first all-metal airplane, the first colour film as well as the first synthetic rubber and plastic.

In recent years Magdeburg has recovered its standing thanks to its local publicly-funded Fraunhofer Institute for virtual engineering , which allows products to be modelled, simulated and optimised from design to end-of-life.

For Intel, having that expertise and other engineering know-how on its doorstep was a key factor in swinging the decision for Magdeburg and away from Leixlip or elsewhere in Ireland. Once again Germany is ahead through engineering.