Elon Musk says Tesla could start making cars in China in three years

Straight outta Shanghai.
Straight outta Shanghai.
Image: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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The first made-in-China Tesla could arrive in three years.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, made the announcement during the company’s third-quarter earnings call yesterday (Nov. 1), though he also told investors and analysts not to “set your watch by this” as the date was a “rough target.” Musk added that Tesla wouldn’t make any significant capital expenditure in China, the world’s largest electric-vehicle market, until 2019.

Musk’s remarks came as Tesla posted its largest quarterly loss due to production problems with the Model 3.

In October, Tesla secured a deal to set up a manufacturing hub in Shanghai, independently and without a partner. It could become the first foreign automaker to do so in China.

Musk said that the company would be making the smaller and cheaper Model 3 and probably the upcoming Model Y, but not the Model S and Model X, in its Chinese manufacturing facility. “It’s really the only way to make the cars affordable in China,” said Musk. He added that the factory could turn out “at least a couple hundred thousand vehicles ” every year.

Tesla made one-seventh of its overall revenue in China from 2016 to 2017, where Tesla’s sticker price is currently about 50% more expensive than in the US.