"Tesla is working with the Shanghai Municipal Government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility in the region to serve the Chinese market". Several previous reports of the company reaching an agreement to set up shop in China have proven to be mere speculation.
China taxes a 25 percent duty on sales of imported vehicles and has not permitted foreign carmakers to build wholly-owned factories in the country, the world's largest auto market. In the country's free trade zones, however, Tesla would be able to build a "wholly owned factory", according to the WSJ.
Tesla would still have to pay a 25 percent duty on cars built in a free trade zone, but it could lower its production costs.
Wall Street Journal sources say that Tesla has struck a deal with China to build a factory in Shanghai's free trade zone, which will increase the electric vehicle maker's declining sales in the country. However, that is not the case with Tesla, as reportedly it will be building its owning factory.
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Since entering the Chinese market in 2014, Tesla has rapidly expanded its local operations, with China revenue in 2016 growing to $1.06 billion, a three-fold increase from the previous year.
While the news isn't exactly a surprise - Tesla has seemingly been in talks to open a factory in China for ages and has hinted that a factory might be opening soon - given the timing, one can't help but question whether the reporting is accurate. As such, establishing a factory in China will be a major deal for Tesla as it works to ramp up its production around the world.
The company's well known vehicle models included Tesla Roadster, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model x and Tesla Model 3. While the automaker has sold its EVs in China for years, sales have sometimes struggled in a country where it faces an uphill battle between its outsider status and apartment-focused living (you can't buy an EV if there's nowhere to charge it). Chinese electric vehicle company BYD, which is backed by Warren Buffett, was the best-selling electric carmaker previous year and sells seven models in the country.