Elon Musk lands in China, but will FSD land with him?

On 28 April, Elon Musk paid an unannounced visit to Beijing. The heart of the matter for this surprise visit, as it turned out, is the driver assistant features Tesla calls “Full Self-Driving”, or FSD. The technology has been available on a limited basis in China due to obstacles such as regulations on transmitting data out of China. Musk met with officials including Premier Li Qiang to discuss the matter. In fact, the visit coincides with the Chinese auto association’s approval of the Model 3 and Y cars being compliant with the data security requirements in the country.

On Weibo, China’s equivalent to Musk’s X (formerly Twitter), the visit sparked several Hot Search-worthy topics including “Musk Beijing” (#马斯克 北京#) which reached number 2 on the list with 9.77 million views and “Musk is happy to see Chinese EV progress” (#马斯克称乐见中国电车取得进展#) reached number 7 with 56.93 million views. Meanwhile, this visit gave the market a much-needed boost in confidence as Tesla’s stock grew nearly 9% in pre-market trading at NASDAQ the next day.

On 24 April, the EV Goliath released its financial report for Q1 2024, which shows a 9% decrease in revenue to 21.30 billion USD and a 55% decline in net profit to 1.13 billion USD. Perhaps for the same reason, the brand has been busy adjusting its strategy globally and in China. On 16 April, Tesla announced that it would cut over 10% of jobs worldwide. On 21 April, all Model S/3/X/Y EV lines dropped 14,000 RMB (1,933.35 USD) in its retail prices. On 24 April, Tesla showcased the latest Model 3 Performance model for the first time in China, just ahead of the Auto China show.

Tesla has also partnered with Baidu to deploy maps and navigation in the country. Apple was reported earlier this year to be in talks with the Chinese tech giant for incorporating its AI services for future iPhones, however, it was later claimed that they have yet to reach an agreement. It would seem the two tech companies will soon be either competing against each other or entering a renewed partnership, as Tesla is also eyeing the Robotaxi market as Musk named its own version the Cybercab. It seems that despite the steep competition, Tesla is betting on China to grow its currently shaky market share.


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