Elon Musk visits China as Tesla seeks to roll out self-driving technology

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrived in Beijing on Sunday for an unannounced visit, where he is expected to meet top officials to discuss rolling out its full self-driving program and allowing data to be transferred overseas, a person said. Knowing about it.

Chinese state media reported that he met with Premier Li Qiang in Beijing, where he told Musk that Tesla's development in China could be considered a successful example of economic and trade cooperation between the United States and China.

Musk confirmed his meeting with the Prime Minister on Sunday through a post on the social media platform X.

Musk posted a photo with the Premier: “I am honored to meet Premier Li Qiang. We have known each other now for many years, since the early days of Shanghai.”

Tesla reached an agreement with the Chinese authorities to establish a factory in Shanghai, its first outside the United States, in 2018.

The US electric car maker introduced full self-driving, or FSD, the most autonomous version of its Autopilot software, four years ago, but has not yet made it available in China, its second-largest market globally, despite customers urging it. So.

Musk said this month that Tesla may make FSD available to customers in China “very soon,” in response to an inquiry on social media platform X.

Rival Chinese automakers like Xpeng are seeking to gain an advantage over Tesla by rolling out similar programs.

The source said Musk is looking to get approval to transfer data collected in the country abroad to train algorithms for his self-driving technologies.

See also  UAW leaders move forward with Ford contract as GM talks continue

Since 2021, Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai as required by Chinese regulators and has not transferred any of it to the United States.

Musk's visit to China, which was first reported by Reuters, was not announced, and the person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chinese broadcaster CCTV, in its report on Musk's meeting with Li, did not say whether the two discussed FSD or data.

Earlier in the day, a separate report broadcast by state radio said that Li visited the ongoing Beijing Auto Show and commented on how China's intelligent new energy vehicle sector has gained a leading market position and that the country should work hard and maintain its advantages.

Musk also met with Ren Hongbin, the government official who heads the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the organizer of the Beijing auto show, state media reported.

“It's good to see electric cars making progress in China. All cars will be electric in the future,” Musk said in a video posted on social media by a state media user.

Late on Sunday, a major Chinese automobile association published a list of 76 car models that it said it had tested and found to be compliant with China's data security requirements, including Tesla's Model Y and three cars.

Musk's trip came just over a week after he canceled a planned visit to India to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing Tesla's “very heavy liabilities.”

See also  Delta is adding a second eclipse flight on April 8

The company said this month that it would lay off 10% of its global workforce as it faces declining sales and an intensifying price war for electric vehicles led by Chinese brands.

US auto safety regulators said on Friday they had opened an investigation into whether Tesla Inc's recall of more than 2 million US vehicles, announced in December to install new Autopilot safeguards, was sufficient after a series of crashes.

Landed in Beijing

A Gulfstream private jet with tail number N272BG, registered to Falcon Landing, a company linked to SpaceX and Tesla, landed at Beijing Capital Airport on Sunday at 0603 GMT, according to Chinese flight-tracking app Flight Manager.

The other plane registered under Falcon Landing is N628TS, which is Musk's main plane he used to travel to China on his last trip nearly a year ago, when he met with Chinese government officials in Beijing and visited Tesla's factory in Shanghai.

Tesla has sold more than 1.7 million cars in China since it entered the market a decade ago, and its factory in Shanghai is considered the largest in the world.

Musk's visit coincides with the Beijing Auto Show, which opened last week and ends on May 4. Tesla does not have a booth at China's largest auto show, which it last attended in 2021.

GM CEO Mary Barra made an unannounced visit to the show in the world's largest auto market on Friday, according to two people familiar with her schedule. GM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also on Friday, Grace Tao, Tesla's vice president in charge of external relations in China, posted a comment on the social media account of state media outlet People's Daily, arguing that self-driving technologies will be the electric car industry's new growth driver.

See also  Is my money safe? What you need to know about bank failures

Tao said in the article that Tesla has been leading autonomous driving research and development through “comprehensive neural network” technology and data collected from millions of cars on the road.

With more pedestrians and cyclists than many other markets, China's complex traffic conditions provide more scenarios that are key to training self-driving algorithms at a faster pace, according to industry experts.

Musk said last week that Tesla will introduce new, cheaper models using its existing electric vehicle platforms and production lines and will introduce a new “robot taxi” equipped with self-driving technology. He said in a post on X this month that he would unveil the robotaxi on August 8.

Tesla shares have fallen by nearly a third since the beginning of the year as concerns grow about the electric car maker's growth trajectory. Last week, Tesla reported its first drop in quarterly revenue since 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic slowed production and deliveries.

(Reporting by Zhang Yan and Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Liz Li, Jenny Wang, Daniel Leussink, Alessandro Divigiano and Akanksha Khushi; Editing by Jamie Freed and Sharon Singleton)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *