AFPSHANGHAI (AFP-Jiji) — Tesla unveiled plans on Tuesday to build a factory in Shanghai to dramatically increase its production capacity, with boss Elon Musk making his electric-car company’s biggest overseas move yet just as a U.S.-China trade battle heats up.
Musk said the plant, which has been in the works for a year, would eventually have an annual production capacity of 500,000 cars, and he hoped it would be “completed very soon.”
The announcement of the new Tesla venture comes as U.S. companies face pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to keep manufacturing jobs at home, and as Beijing and Washington spar over trade terms in a fight that only last weekend significantly hiked the price of imported Teslas sold in China.
Analysts noted that the announcement included no details about how much the plant would cost or how it would be financed.
China already is the world’s biggest electric car market and is expected to grow further due in part to favorable government policies for the environmentally friendly vehicles.
“Shanghai will be the location for the first Gigafactory outside the United States,” Musk said in a statement released by the company and Shanghai’s government.
The plant, located in the Lingang district, “will be a state-of-the-art vehicle factory and a role model for sustainability. We hope it will be completed very soon.”
A Tesla spokesperson said the company expects construction to begin “in the near future,” with production beginning roughly two years later and another three more years before it reaches full production.
“Tesla is deeply committed to the Chinese market, and we look forward to building even more cars for our customers here,” the spokesperson said.
“Today’s announcement will not impact our U.S. manufacturing operations, which continue to grow.”
Pulling the trigger
Anticipation about a potential big Tesla investment had bubbled over the past year. The company last month told shareholders it was working with officials in Shanghai to establish a plant to build electric cars and battery packs intended for China.Speech