Elon Musk, worldwide idol of capitalist-development strength and inspiration to China’s science community, has announced that Tesla will be building its first factory outside of the US in Shanghai.
It’s one of the biggest moves Tesla has made outside of the US. And not just outside of the US, but right into the dim mak pressure point of the burgeoning electric vehicle industry, China. And not just into China, but into its commercial epicenter Shanghai, no less.
“For Tesla to make affordable vehicles, it is going to be important to localize production to at least continental level,” Musk told shareholders.
Since the factory will be producing electric batteries and cars, you might think a city like Shenzhen would be the first choice. But last month, Tesla registered a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai geared towards R&D and developing the electric car industry, so the Shanghai-based factory comes as a natural follow-up.
The factory, according to Musk, will be a “Gigafactory” (that is, a factory, but with snazzier branding). In the longterm, Tesla hopes to have 10 – 12 of these factories worldwide. Obviously Musk has big plans as to how China will fit into his wider electric vehicle strategy, and it remains to seen what the relationship will be between Tesla’s new mainland China presence, and the exploding domestic electric vehicle industry.
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Cover photo from Musk’s 2017 meeting with Vice Premier Wang Yang
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