Tesla is preparing for a major expansion of the Gigafactory Shanghai, its core electric vehicle production facility in China, in a move that looks set to enable the US automaker to bring out its long-rumored budget compact hatchback, local media has reported.
The company is also said to be readying to supply Chinese clients with its large-scale utility batteries known as Megapacks from next year, having begun searching for a head of local sales. The availability of the Megapack in China will step up the pace of Tesla’s entry into the country’s energy storage market.
Why it matters: The news comes after Tesla CEO Elon Musk had dinner with Chinese president Xi Jinping, alongside other American company executives, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco on Nov. 15.
In a statement published on the Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo the next day, Tesla said it looked forward to joint developments with China in areas such as green energy vehicles, energy storage, and artificial intelligence, citing Xi’s support for Tesla’s operations in the country.
The moves are expected to help Tesla almost double its local production capacity and diversify its revenue sources at a time when the EV giant sees slowing sales due to growing competition from domestic players.
Details: The so-called phase-three expansion could facilitate the production of Tesla’s upcoming car, dubbed the “Model 2” or “Model Q” with a price tag as low as RMB 150,000 ($21,800), people with knowledge of the matter told LatePost on Wednesday.
The expansion was put on ice early this year, according to a Jan. 12 report by Bloomberg, after apparent concerns from the Chinese government over data security issues related to Starlink, the satellite internet unit of SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company.
Details of the plan remain unclear, but if it proceeds, Tesla is expected to be able to nearly double its manufacturing capacity in China to 2 million EVs a year. Analysts expect volume production of the lower-priced, next-gen Tesla vehicle no earlier than 2025.
Meanwhile, Tesla in April announced plans to build a new facility in Shanghai – capable of making 10,000 large-scale, energy-storage battery systems, or 40 gigawatt-hours-worth (GWh) of the Megapack – scheduled to commence operations in the second quarter of 2024.
Sources told LatePost that the China-manufactured Megapack batteries will be delivered locally and overseas.
Context: Tesla sold 771,171 China-made EVs in the first 10 months of the year, up 39% from a year ago, of which 308,816 were overseas exports, according to figures compiled by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). The annual growth rate saw a drop compared to 50.3% last year.
The US firm said in January that it deployed 6.5 GWh of energy storage in 2022, representing year-on-year growth of 64%. It estimated that the world requires a total capacity of 2,310 GWh per year of electric-chemical battery storage systems such as the Megapack in order to achieve a 100% global clean energy transition, according to estimates from the EV maker’s Master Plan 3.