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Tesla Shanghai gigafactory, courtesy of Tesla.


Is Tesla Building Another Car Factory in China?


A news report out of China claims that Tesla is at least testing the waters regarding a second gigafactory in the country. The report centers around an update from Liaoning Province’s official WeChat account. As summarized by CarNewsChina, the report indicates that Shenyang City is working on laying the foundation for a Tesla vehicle project — but not like the actual foundation of a building, more of a figure of speech type of foundation. The actual wording is  “为特斯拉等重大新能源整车项目落地奠定基础,” which reportedly translates into “laying the foundation for the implementation of major new energy vehicle projects such as Tesla.”

That doesn’t look too definitive to me. It seems to say that the city is trying to create a foundation of sorts that would make the area appeal to Tesla and others looking to build a new car factory. However, the author of this article, Dong Yi Chen, indicates that saying “Tesla” in this update from the province implies some genuine movement is afoot. “As my experience goes, the official channels of local government wouldn’t mention an overseas company when it comes to investment if the company had not been in touch with it already.” That sounds logical, but I think it could also overlook the extent to which some people like to namedrop “Tesla” in order to garner more excitement and support. Perhaps the government officials who put out the report wanted to get more attention for the “foundation” the province and especially Shenyang are setting in place (and knew that just mentioning Tesla would bring in that attention), or perhaps they are working to entice Tesla to set up a gigafactory there and figured they’d be open about that. There is also the possibility that Tesla is indeed looking to build another factory in China and Liaoning Province is subtly sharing the news that it’s in contention for the selection.

However, Elon Musk recently said that Tesla hadn’t really considered where to plan their next gigafactory, and that they’d probably start thinking about that in 2022. We’re barely into 2022, Giga Berlin isn’t producing vehicles yet, and Giga Texas isn’t really producing vehicles yet, so it’s hard to assume that a specific area of China has already been selected as the place for another new car factory. It also seems unlikely to me that the location of Tesla’s next gigafactory will again be China. There are a lot of other places to consider, including somewhere in South or Central America.

Furthermore, Dong Yi Chen adds: “It’s worth saying, this ‘such as’ in the Chinese ‘official’ language means more like an aspiration rather than a plan.”

So, we’ll see. In the meantime, there are tons upon tons upon tons of cars coming out of Giga Shanghai every day.

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