An unusually written Elon Musk delivered conciliatory and complimentary remarks to Chinese automakers during a prerecorded appearance at the World Congress of New Energy Vehicles in China, striking a pose that is a far cry from his commentary style in the United States.
“I have great respect for the many Chinese automakers for driving these [EV and AV] technologies, ”he said, the reflection of a barely visible ring of light in the window over his left shoulder. The whole picture was enough to make one suspect that there was an out-of-frame crisis communications expert, urging him to continue with his prepared remarks.
On the other hand, Musk may not need any kind of outside persuasion; China is one of the most lucrative markets for electric vehicles worldwide, accounting for about a fifth, or $ 6.66 billion, of Tesla’s total sales last year, according to regulatory filings.
While the United States remains one of Tesla’s largest markets, the company has aggressively pursued expansion into China, including opening Gigafactory Shanghai in 2019 to manufacture the Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla faces competition from Chinese automakers, including electric car startup Xpeng and the company. search for the giant company Baidu.
“My frank observation is that Chinese auto companies are the most competitive in the world, especially as some are very good at software, and it is software that will most shape the future of the auto industry, from design to manufacturing and especially autonomous driving. Musk said in the message.
The company’s entry into the electric vehicle market of the world’s most populous nation was bumpy at first, but Tesla managed to turn it around. Last year, the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric vehicle in China. Tesla has also received unprecedented autonomy in the region, especially since it is the only non-Chinese automaker allowed to fully own its local subsidiary. It’s a fact that Musk has noticed in past public appearances.
“I think something that’s really noteworthy here is that Tesla is the only foreign manufacturer that has a 100 percent factory in China,” Musk said during the company’s Battery Day event last year. “This is often not well understood or appreciated, but having the only 100% -owned foreign factory in China is really important and is paying huge dividends.”
But it hasn’t all been rosy: The company has faced a flurry of negative media from both consumers and regulators this year, beginning in February when Chinese government officials convened company executives for a meeting on vehicle safety concerns. (To which Tesla said: “We sincerely accept the guidance of government departments and deeply reflect on the shortcomings in our business operations.”)
Then in April, a woman who claimed to be a Tesla owner protested the company at the Shanghai auto show in April. Bloomberg reported A few months later, Tesla was trying to build relationships with influencers from Chinese social media and auto industry publications to combat all the bad public relations.
A Tesla owner climbed on the roof of a car at the Tesla booth to protest the malfunctioning of her car’s brakes at the Shanghai Auto Show on Monday. The cabin reinforced its security after the incident. pic.twitter.com/ct7RmF1agM
– Global Times (@globaltimesnews) April 19, 2021
In his pre-recorded comments, Musk also responded to a question about autonomous vehicles and data security, calling it “not just the responsibility of a single company, but also the cornerstone of the entire development of the industry.” This issue is especially sensitive after news broke that the Chinese military prohibited drivers from parking their Teslas at its facilities. Last month, China published new regulations aimed at strengthening data security in connected cars, Tech Wire Asia reported. Tesla and other automakers, including Ford and BMW, moved to establish local data warehousing centers in China.
“Tesla will work with national authorities in all countries to ensure data security for smart and connected vehicles,” he added.