As part of his first visit to China in several years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with China’s Minister of Commerce. He also visited the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Prior to these meetings, Musk met with China’s Foreign Minister, and he was later photographed with CATL CEO and founder Zeng Yuqun.
The details of Musk’s meetings with the Chinese officials have not been shared, but expectations are high that Musk discussed Tesla’s plans to expand its production capacity in China. Tesla currently operates its largest car factory by volume in Shanghai, which produces over 700,000 vehicles per year. Reports have suggested that Tesla intends to expand Gigafactory Shanghai further.
On Wednesday morning, Musk left his hotel room with two key Tesla executives: Grace Tao, who serves as Tesla China’s public affairs chief, and Tom Zhu, the company’s head of global manufacturing and a person considered a potential successor to Elon Musk’s CEO position.
Local reports suggested that Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao and Elon Musk engaged in an extensive discussion about a number of key topics, including US-China economic and trade cooperation, as well as Tesla’s further developments in the country. Following this, Musk visited the Ministry of Industry and Information, which has regulatory oversight of the country’s automotive industry.
Considering Musk’s meeting with the Ministry of Industry and Information, speculation is abounding that the CEO might have spoken to government officials about the potential launch of Tesla’s advanced driver-assist systems like Full Self-Driving Beta in China. FSD Beta’s features have been deployed on public roads in the United States since October 2020, but they have not yet been approved for use in China, as noted in a Reuters report.
China is Tesla’s largest market outside of the United States, and it is expected to continue to grow in importance in the years to come. The country is likely to play an even bigger role in the coming years as well, particularly as Tesla starts the production and rollout of its next-generation platform, which should pave the way for vehicles that are more affordable than the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover.
Musk’s visit to China comes amidst the emergence of more and more legitimate competition from domestic electric vehicle makers like BYD, NIO, and Xpeng. Despite the increasing competition, however, Tesla remains the country’s leading pure electric vehicle maker. The likely addition of a more affordable car in the company’s lineup of vehicles would most definitely boost Tesla’s market share in China as well.
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