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The End of Tesla’s Dominance May Be Closer Than It Appears

Elon Musk’s upstart still rules, but traditional automakers are catching up fast.

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He doesn’t date a synth-pop star, publicly puff on blunts, or profess to want to die on Mars, but Herbert Diess is starting to look and sound an awful lot like Elon Musk.

The chief executive officer of Volkswagen AG kicked off a March 15 news conference modeled after Tesla Inc.’s “Battery Day”—Diess called his “Power Day”—by declaring that there’s only one way to quickly reduce emissions from transportation: Go electric. Skeptics could be forgiven for raising their eyebrows at that message, coming as it was from the same carmaker that spent years gaslighting the world about “clean diesel.” But VW is finally seeing the payoff from its five-year effort to create a standardized platform to underpin dozens of electric models. “Many in the industry questioned our approach,” Diess said during the two-hour infomercial he led from VW’s headquarters in the German city of Wolfsburg. “Today they are following suit, while we are reaping the fruit.”