Update: See this article for clarification regarding Tom Zhu’s statements and a rumor about a leaked timeline for the ~$25,000 Tesla: Rumor: $25,000 Tesla Timeline.
Tom Zhu, president of Tesla’s operation in China, spoke in an interview with Xinhua Net, the Chinese state media outlet, about the hot recent news that Tesla China is developing a $25,000 vehicle. In the interview, Zhu provided new info about Tesla’s $25,000 EV. He said that it would be sold globally.
Zhu said that the Tesla model will be designed with China in mind, and that construction was already in progress on a local research and development center, but that it would be sold more broadly than that.
Zhu noted that Tesla’s local research and development center was its first outside of the US and that the site will cover everything for the global model. “Vehicle design, vehicle engineering, vehicle development, and vehicle testing,” Zhu said, will all happen at the new facility.
Zhu expects Tesla’s R&D center to be online towards the middle of this year. “We now expect it be up and running in the middle of this year. … It has more than 20 professional laboratories. We will provide very good conditions to facilitate our R&D engineers working toward our ultimate goal. The ultimate goal has been mentioned in many public occasions. In the future, we want to design, develop, and produce an original model in China. It is manufactured here and sold to the whole world. This R&D center is the starting point of the goal.”
So, yes, Tesla’s R&D center will be the starting point for the rollout of a Chinese-made Tesla that the company aims to sell globally. Zhu didn’t go into detail about what the car would look like, but sina.com reported recently that Tesla is expected to unveil an electric hatchback (many are preemptively calling it the “Model 2,” a trend that might have started here at CleanTechnica) in China at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November 2021.
The vehicle is expected to sell for around 160,000 yuan (that’s under $25,000), and it is generally expected to be something like a small hatchback version of a Model 3.