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Two years after Elon Musk elicited audible gasps from an awards show audience with his surprise announcement that Tesla Inc. would build a factory outside Berlin, the project is nearing fruition and the hype has never been more palpable.

One analyst recently compared the series of innovations Musk is pursuing at the plant to Henry Ford’s revolutionary moving assembly line. Volkswagen AG’s chief executive officer this month expressed worry Tesla will be able to crank out an electric car in a third of the time it’s taking his company — a disparity that would jeopardize jobs.

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