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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Tesla creates new car firm in China

Company will focus on electric cars, spare parts and batteries, according to a filing, as Beijing looks to overhaul regulations on green vehicles and wider market

A Tesla Model S car at its showroom in Beijing, China. The US firm has registered a new company in the world's biggest car market. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
A Tesla Model S car at its showroom in Beijing, China. The US firm has registered a new company in the world's biggest car market. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Tesla has registered a new electric car firm in Shanghai, as China prepares to scrap rules on capping foreign ownership of new-energy vehicle (NEV) ventures.

The new company, Tesla (Shanghai), was registered on May 10, according to a filing with the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System seen by Reuters.

The new company will focus on electric cars, spare parts and batteries, according to the filing.

The US car maker has been in protracted negotiations to set up its own plant in Shanghai to produce vehicles locally, helping bolster its position in the country's fast-growing market for electric cars and to avoid high import tariffs.

It was not clear if the new firm was related to the anticipated Shanghai plant.

"We don't have anything new to add on this registration for now," a Tesla spokeswoman said on Monday.

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The new company, registered in south-east Shanghai within the city's free-trade zone area, lists Tesla China head Zhu Xiaotong as its legal representative and Tesla Motors HK Limited as the sole shareholder in the firm.

Tesla currently imports all the cars it sells in China from the United States. It has other wholly-owned firms registered in China focused on sales and research and development.

China has said it will scrap limits on foreign ownership of NEV ventures this year and all automotive ventures by 2022, a major policy shift in the world's top car market that has capped foreign ownership at 50 per cent for over two decades.

US firms have also been caught up in the crossfire of a bruising trade dispute between the two countries, although there are signs of a thaw in relations ahead of a second round of trade talks in Washington later this week.

Analysts have said the main beneficiaries of looser ownership rules would be NEV makers like Tesla, which has been keen to maintain control of its own plant and protect its technology rather than cede a 50 per cent share.

Tesla boss Elon Musk has previously criticised China's tough auto rules for foreign businesses, saying they created an uneven playing field.

However, earlier this month he said the firm could soon unveil the location of a Chinese gigafactory.