As the billionaire Tesla Motors Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is visiting China because the company prepares to begin local sales, he also boldly forecast the company could soon start producing cars there.
Musk attended a full Geekpark Conference and made the production promise, while also adding the company is preparing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars locally – and is now in the midst of expanding what will soon become a huge Supercharger network – its trademark network of battery-charging stations, including many of them in Beijing and Shanghai.
“At some point in the next three or four years we’ll be establishing local manufacturing in China,” Musk said. “China is very important to the future of Tesla. We’re going to make a big investment in China in terms of charging infrastructure.”
“I think they can sell quite a few here in the market,” said Finbarr O’Neill, president of J.D. Power & Associates. “There’s a lot of talk about Tesla but, you know, their numbers are not huge. Mr. Musk has been successful in many fields. I wish him luck, but there’s a limit to every market.”
While ambitious, the project of establishing a local production facility would allow Tesla to skip the world’s biggest auto market 25% import tariff. Also, some hurdles need to be overcome before that – like the fact that local production of a foreign brand means it needs to partner in a joint venture with a local company – and Musk acknowledged that such talks are not under way and most likely any announcement on the matter is at least a year away.