Tesla Motors Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who’s preparing to begin deliveries of the Model S electric vehicle in China, forecast the company will be making cars in the country in the next three to four years.
The company is also building a “big” network of battery-charging stations in China, including superchargers in Beijing and Shanghai, the billionaire CEO said at a packed Geekpark Conference in the nation’s capital yesterday. Musk is scheduled to host an event tomorrow to mark the beginning of Model S deliveries in the country.
“At some point in the next three or four years we’ll be establishing local manufacturing in China,” Musk said. “China is very important to the future of Tesla. We’re going to make a big investment in China in terms of charging infrastructure.”
Local production in the world’s biggest auto market would allow Tesla to sell cars at cheaper prices by avoiding China’s 25 percent import tariff. While entering the country presents an opportunity for Tesla to sell as many vehicles there as in the U.S. by as soon as next year, Musk, 42, will attempt to accomplish what the Chinese government has struggled to do: get people to buy electric cars.
“I think they can sell quite a few here in the market,” said Finbarr O’Neill, president of J.D. Power & Associates. “There’s a lot of talk about Tesla but, you know, their numbers are not huge. Mr. Musk has been successful in many fields. I wish him luck, but there’s a limit to every market.”