Elon Musk’s China Visit Focuses on Tesla’s Expansion and Autonomous Driving

Elon Musk's China Visit Focuses on Tesla's Expansion and Autonomous Driving

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, embarked on an unscheduled journey to Beijing on a Sunday flight, as disclosed by two individuals privy to the information.  Musk’s visit to China, Tesla’s second-largest market, aims to foster discussions with senior Chinese officials regarding the introduction of Full-Self Driving (FSD) software in the country and securing approval for exporting data amassed in China to enhance autonomous driving technologies’ algorithms. 

Since 2021, Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai as required by Chinese regulators and has not transferred any back to the United States.  Despite customer requests, Tesla has not made the FSD software available in China yet. Musk mentioned that Tesla may make FSD available to customers in China “very soon” in response to a query on the social media platform X. 

Rival Chinese automakers like Xpeng have been working to introduce similar software to gain a competitive edge over Tesla. Musk’s visit to China was not publicly announced, and the sources spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to speak with the media. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

In addition to the discussions on FSD and data transfer, Musk’s China trip also included meetings with several high-level government officials, such as the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Industry and Information Technology, the Shanghai Party Secretary, and the Vice Premier. 

During these meetings, Musk discussed topics related to the development of new energy vehicles, intelligent networked vehicles, and Tesla’s business expansion in China. Musk also visited Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai and praised the high-quality vehicles produced there. 

The visit was part of a broader trend of foreign executives flocking to China after the country lifted most of its pandemic-era travel restrictions in January. 

However, Musk’s relationship with China is not without complications, as his ownership of Starlink and SpaceX has raised concerns with the Chinese government regarding their potential to circumvent traditional communication channels.