Tesla announces new innovation centre in Beijing

The news comes a few days after Tesla announced a 500,000-car factory in Shanghai

Tesla Model X. Image: Tesla

US electric car maker Tesla has established an innovation centre in Beijing, its global vice-president Ren Yuxiang revealed to The Bejing News Thursday

Dubbed the Tesla Beijing Technology and Innovation Center, it will work with the Beijing municipal government on research and development efforts on new electric vehicles and their parts. The centre is already registered in Beijing, alongside Tesla headquarters and its operational units in the capital, according to the same media source.

“Beijing is a very important market for Tesla,” said Ren, adding that the capital has the advantages of a high concentration of human talents, tertiary and research institutions which Tesla can take advantage of.

Ren also said the next stage of collaboration with Beijing is not limited to just new energy vehicles and batteries, stressing that Tesla is a global company that has a wide product range.

Elon Musk’s Tesla has been betting big on China recently. Just a few days ago, it announced that it will be building a 500 thousand-car factory in Shanghai, which was a deal many years in the making. The plant is Tesla’s first factory outside of the US.

But the company’s expansion plans have been also been hit by the ongoing US-China trade war. The carmaker hiked prices on its Model X and S cars in China by 20 percent, following China’s announcement of a 25 percent import tariffs on goods including cars as retaliation to the US’s $34 billion import tariffs on Chinese goods.

While China accounts for 17% of Tesla’s revenue, Tesla’s cars occupy just 3% of the country’s battery-powered electric-vehicle market, according to Bloomberg. China’s domestic officially-termed new-energy vehicle market is dominated by local players such as BYD, BJEV, Byton and others which produce more than 90% of the new-energy vehicles in the country.

The benefits from Tesla’s expansion in China is likely only to be seen months later, if not years, in terms of vehicle production and sales. In the meantime, the electric carmaker will have to deal with its own production targets and whether it needs to raise capital in the short term.

Edited by Elaine Huang