Two years after Elon Musk elicited audible gasps from an awards show audience with his surprise announcement that Tesla 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 Mr Musk is pursuing at the plant to Henry Ford’s revolutionary moving assembly line, while Volkswagen’s chief executive this month expressed concern that Tesla will be able to crank out an electric car in a third of the time it is taking his company — a disparity that would jeopardise jobs.
Mr Musk has billed the novelties Tesla is working on as transformative to the structural design of its vehicles. He wants to use massive machines — as long as a semi-trailer and tall as a two-story home — to produce front and rear body parts using single pieces of metal. Pulling this off would save time and cost, reduce weight and improve driving range.