Musk is expected to visit China this week and meet with officials

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – 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.

Musk is expected to meet with senior Chinese officials and visit Tesla’s factory in Shanghai, two of the sources said.

It wasn’t immediately clear who Musk would be meeting and what they would be discussing. People with knowledge of the trip declined to be named as 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 was looking to meet Chinese Premier Li Qiang as early as April, with the exact timing subject to Li’s availability.

China is Tesla’s second-largest market after the United States, and its Shanghai factory is the electric carmaker’s largest production hub.

Musk also owns social media platform Twitter, which is banned in China, although some people access it through virtual private networks (VPNs).

The trip would be Musk’s first to China since he set the internet on fire by dancing on stage at an event at Tesla’s Shanghai factory in early 2020.

It would also come at a time when Tesla is grappling with multiple issues, including intensifying competition with Chinese automakers exporting their Chinese-made electric vehicles as demand in the world’s largest auto market swells. weakens.

Tesla has yet to provide an update on plans to increase production to 450,000 vehicles a year at its Shanghai plant, although it announced in April that it would build a factory in Shanghai to produce Megapack energy storage.

The company has submitted plans to local authorities to increase powertrain production capacity at the Shanghai plant to 1.75 million units a year.

China’s state planner has grappled with a capacity glut in its auto industry with more than 100 players and has been cautious about approving new production capacity.

Musk told CNBC earlier this month that “there are constraints on our ability to grow in China.” He added: “It’s not a demand issue.”

In the same interview, Musk said tensions between the United States and China “should be a concern for everyone.”

Tesla is building a factory in Mexico that is expected to produce a lower-cost electric car built on its next-generation platform.

(Reporting by Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Zhang Yan in Shanghai; Editing by Mark Potter)

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