Tesla to Locate China Design Center in Beijing

Tesla to Locate China Design Center in Beijing

The electric-car maker's placement for the center, which it first disclosed in 2020, was cited in a government document

Tesla Inc. is placing a design center in China's capital, according to a Beijing government document.

The electric-car maker had said it would build a design-and-engineering center to develop China-designed vehicles for the global market, but hadn't said where the center would be.

A list of key projects in the Beijing municipal government work report for this year, released online Jan. 31 but not previously reported, shows Beijing is pushing forward with construction of several important facilities related to electric vehicles.

The list also includes a new car factory by Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi Corp.

Beijing authorities said last November that the Xiaomi plant was expected to make 300,000 vehicles annually.

The list didn't give further details on the Tesla design center. Beijing government press officers couldn't immediately be reached late Thursday. Tesla didn't respond to a request for comment.

China was Tesla's second-largest market, following the U.S., last year, generating more than a quarter of its total revenue, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

Tesla reported revenue of $13.8 billion in China for 2021, a 108% increase compared with a year earlier, the SEC filing shows.

China is key to the car-making ambition of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, who has vowed to localize manufacturing, design and more in the company's fastest-growing market.

Since late 2019, Tesla has produced vehicles in its Shanghai factory, Tesla's first car-manufacturing facility outside the U.S.

The company sold more than 470,000 cars made at its Shanghai factory last year, around a third of which were exported, data from the China Passenger Car Association showed.

Tesla said it delivered more than 936,000 vehicles globally in 2021.

"We intend to continue making a significant investment and increasing the investment in China," Mr. Musk said at an event in Shanghai in early 2020, when the company revealed plans for the design center.

U.S. auto makers have had some challenges tapping into the design preferences of Chinese buyers, with models that lacked features important in China.

Last month, Tesla introduced an in-car karaoke microphone only for the Chinese market, which sold out in less than an hour.

In October, the company said it had built a data center in Shanghai to store information generated by local operations, in line with government regulations that such data can't be stored outside China. It also built its first vehicle-development center outside the U.S. in Shanghai.

Tesla has started to develop products there for the global market, says a promotion video posted by the company.

The company said its charging facilities now cover more than 360 cities and regions in China.

On New Year's Eve, Tesla opened a showroom in China's remote Xinjiang region, a move that risks placing the company in a reputational thicket that has recently ensnared other American companies due to Chinese authorities' campaign of forcible assimilation against ethnic minorities in the region, which China portrays as an effort to fight religious extremism and terrorism.

Raffaele Huang contributed to this article.



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