Tesla Plans to Open a Design Center in China, Sends Out a Recruitment Notice on Social Media
Electric automaker Tesla plans to open a design and research center in China to make what it called "Chinese-style" vehicles. The made the announcement in a recruitment notice on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, which is the equivalent of Twitter in China.
The post said that Tesla was looking to recruit vehicle designers and other staff to help Tesla develop new vehicles for the local market. Tesla called for applications to be submitted by Feb. 1, but the company did not identify the center's location.
"In order to achieve a shift of ‘Made in China' to ‘Designed in China', Tesla's CEO Elon Musk has proposed a very cool thing - set up a design and research center in China," it read.
Tesla did not indicate when the center might open.
China is the world's biggest auto market and one that is beginning to transition to electric vehicles with government support, so it's an important market for Tesla's future growth. Annual vehicle sales in China are around 18 million units.
Although China auto market has cooled slightly, sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China, which include fully-electric and plug-in hybrid models, increased of 61.7 percent in 2018 to 1.26 million units, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Analysts think the more affordable China-made Tesla vehicles will help the U.S. company lure younger car buyers away from local EV makers thanks to its brand appeal.
"Tesla is a very famous and hot brand in China," said Alan Kang, senior analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy LMC Automotive to Nikkei in November 2019. "It is not only an EV car brand to consumers, but also a brand of high-technology image."
Kang said that Tesla CEO Elon Musk's personal influence added to the brand's attractiveness in China.
Tesla's new Shanghai factory recently started production of the mass-market Model 3 for the Chinese market just a year after breaking ground. The Shanghai factory, which is the company's first overseas plant, strengthens Tesla presence in China and will help the company avoid steep import tariffs on foreign autos.
The factory is also the first wholly-owned auto plant by a foreign company since the Chinese government relaxed rules requiring no more than a 50% ownership in any joint venture with a Chinese partner.
Last week, Musk launched a Model Y electric sports utility vehicle program at the $2 billion factory. Musk predicted that the upcoming Tesla Model Y might outsell all other Tesla models combined.
Tesla is riding high after its stock reached record highs after the company reported better than expected profits in Q3 last year a strong quarter to close out 2019, which was boosted by sales of the Model 3.
Tesla's stock price reached $546.73 on Jan 14. The surge in its stock price raised its market value to $90 billion, making Tesla more valuable than U.S. automakers General Motors and Ford combined.
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