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Leonid Bershidsky

Tesla Is Learning to Be a German Carmaker

The U.S. company's German rivals are part of the same ecosystem, but have a longer term view.

The story of Tesla's rush to produce the Model 3 mass-market car has a subplot which shows how much the U.S. company's ambitions depend on German expertise -- and explains why German automakers are confident they can match or exceed anything Tesla throws at them.

During the company's recent earnings call, chief executive officer Elon Musk said the Model 3 production lines will be "be roughly comparable with the best high-volume vehicle production lines in the world." Getting there appears to depend on Tesla Grohmann Automation, a medium-sized automated production line builder in Pruem, a small town in the state of Rheinland-Palatinate. Tesla acquired the firm, then called Grohmann Engineering, last year, paying $150 million in cash.