The Paper, a publication out of China, recently interviewed Tesla China Vice President Grace Tao. Tao has talked in the past about the potential for an upcoming Tesla car designed and built in China, and there's been plenty of talk about a $25,000 Tesla compact car that's planned for the future.
During the interview, Tao talked about Tesla's vehicle production situation, which she says is "nearly 100% localized," according to an article by Teslarati based on the translated text from The Paper. While some specifics can certainly be lost in translation, it seems Tao is referencing the upcoming "cheaper" Tesla vehicle the China team is designing.
In terms of the translation, it really depends on how much you read into the fine details. As Moneyball (@DKurac) tweeted, Tao says in the "not so distant future," though Teslarati's translation via Google Translate reads "near future." Tao never specifically mentions the $25,000 Tesla compact car, but we know the automaker is planning on a cheaper car designed in China for a global market.
Either way, the VP is making it clear that there are plans to achieve 100% localization, with vehicles "independently designed and manufactured" in China by the Chinese team. The transition reads via Teslarati:
“I hope that in the near future, not only will the Chinese-made (Tesla) models reach nearly 100% localized productivity, they may also be able to witness the vehicles independently designed and manufactured by the Chinese team driving on Chinese roads. Next, we will continue to strengthen technical cooperation with domestic industry chain partners, increase the localization rate of the supply chain, and at the same time promote the integration of Tesla and China’s local economy to achieve common development."
While Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made it clear there is no "Model 2," he has noted in the past that Tesla's goal is to launch a cheaper car. There have also been reports of plans for that car to be designed and produced in China for a global audience. In fact, Tesla has asked designers, as well as amateurs, to submit ideas for a "China-style" EV.
Tesla just recently opened its new Research and Development center in China. In addition, there were reports of the company looking for a location for a second factory in the country. Tao dismissed the rumor of the specific location for the factory, though she didn't say Tesla isn't looking for a site.
This is a developing story. If more concrete details become available, we'll publish a supporting article. In the meantime, what do you make of Tao's comments?