Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks to CNBC on May 16, 2023.
David A. Grogan | cnbc
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk is expected to visit China this week, three people with knowledge of the matter said, in what would be his first trip to the country in three years.
Two sources said Musk is expected to meet senior Chinese officials and tour Tesla’s Shanghai plant.
It was not immediately clear who Musk would meet and what they would discuss. The people with knowledge of the trip declined to be named because the matter is private.
Tesla and China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reuters reported in March that Musk was planning a trip to China and seeking a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in early April, subject to the exact timing of Li’s availability.
China is Tesla’s second largest market after the United States, and its Shanghai plant is the electric carmaker’s biggest production hub.
Musk also owns the social media platform Twitter, which is banned in China, although some people access it through a virtual private network (VPN).
The visit will mark Musk’s first in China since he set the Internet ablaze in early 2020 by dancing on stage during an event at Tesla’s Shanghai factory.
It also comes at a time when Tesla is grappling with a number of issues, including intense competition from Chinese automakers that are exporting their China-made electric vehicles as demand weakens in the world’s biggest auto market.
Tesla has yet to provide an update on its plans to increase production at its Shanghai plant to 450,000 vehicles, although it said in April that it would build a factory in Shanghai to produce Megapack energy storage products.
The company has submitted plans to local authorities to expand powertrain production capacity at the Shanghai plant to 1.75 million units annually.
China’s state planners are grappling with a capacity glut in their auto industry with more than 100 players and have been cautious about approving new production capacity.
Musk told CNBC earlier this month that “there are some constraints on our ability to expand in China.” He added: “It is not a demand issue.”
In the same interview, Musk said that tensions between the United States and China “should be of concern to everyone.”
Tesla is building a plant in Mexico that is expected to produce low-cost electric cars on its next-generation platform.