Tesla Motors announces a new Technology Innovation Center in Beijing on July 12 as CEO Elon Musk concludes his three-day trip in China.
In an interview with Chinese media on July 12, Robin Ren, vice president of Tesla Motors confirmed the establishment of the Tesla Beijing Technology Innovation Centre, the first independent research and development center outside of the U.S. The center will focus on the R&D of electric vehicles (EV), their accessories, batteries, information technology and more.
Despite an earlier announcement to build the newest production facility in Shanghai, Tesla’s Chinese headquarters had always been in Beijing. The EV company’s first showroom was also inside an exclusive shopping mall in the country’s capital.
The innovation center was officially registered on October 18, 2017, three years after Tesla’s entrance into China in 2013. What was once a “wild card”, China is now the most important market after the United States.
Analysts estimate that China takes up 16 percent of the total number of deliveries Tesla made in 2017, behind only U.S. who dominates at 48.6 percent. China is booming in both EV sales and production, with both figures experiencing increases of 53.3 percent and 53.8 percent respectively in 2017.
Musk visited China at a crucial time in U.S.-China trade relations. Chinese tariffs on auto imports was supposed to decrease as per earlier announcements, however, the government increased the tariffs on U.S. auto imports to 40 percent as retaliation on July 6. The new tariff hike towards U.S. imports forced Tesla to increase its prices by 19.5 to 21 percent when it initially planned for a price cut on all vehicles in China.
Tesla reported losses of just under $785 million in the first quarter of 2018 – an increase of 97.5 percent – despite an increase of 26.4 percent in earnings. In May, Musk also announced the lay off of 9 percent of its workforce in an effort to turn the company profitable.