Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently offered a ride to China’s Ambassador to the United States in a Model S Plaid equipped with FSD Beta. Qin Gang described the experience as a “smooth ride” despite the vehicle’s being very powerful.
A China-based Tesla representative confirmed to Bloomberg that the drive took place in Fremont, California, without providing further details. The diplomat shared photographs from inside the car on Twitter, along with a shot from a meeting with Musk—dressed in a black suit and tie, which is not a very common outfit for the eccentric chief executive.
In the tweet, Qin Gang said he and Musk discussed everything from cars to “stars in the sky, research on human brain, meaning of life on earth and our future into the space.“
In stark contrast to the cold relationship Musk has with US government officials, Tesla’s CEO has established close ties with officials from China, the world’s largest EV market and home to the US company’s first overseas factory.
Tesla’s Giga Shanghai facility, designed for an annual capacity of 450,000 units, built about half of the company’s cars sold globally last year—some 470,000 vehicles. Musk said that figure may be doubled in the near future after Tesla completes an expansion of the existing facility, with the EV maker set to build at least a million cars a year in Shanghai.
More recently, Reuters reported on Tesla’s plans to build a second manufacturing facility in Shanghai that would take the annual production to 2 million units when reaching full capacity. Construction on the new plant was reported to start as soon as next month.
Tesla’s business has flourished in China as the US EV maker received preferential treatment including tax breaks, cheap loans and the green light to fully own its domestic operations.
However, it hasn’t been a walk in the park for Musk in China, who came under fire last year after Tesla’s attitude toward customers was questioned by media and regulators.
While Tesla has had its fair share of issues in China, it took aggressive action and ramped up its efforts at service centers while also increasing communication with owners, media, and the government. Of course, it helped that Tesla China has a PR department, unlike in the US.
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