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Elon Musk speaks on conversations during China President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US: ‘[They were] productive discussions’

“We are very happy with our progress in China.”

“We are very happy with our progress in China."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

An interesting nugget of electric vehicle news was noted during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s November visit to San Francisco. 

Xi met with United States President Joe Biden and a host of other key officials in what Biden called “productive discussions” in a CNBC report. Xi also told Tesla CEO Elon Musk that he supports the EV juggernaut’s development in China, per a Reuters account of the visit. 

There’s not a lot of detail on the exchange, but it could mark big things to come in the EV sector, as China and Tesla influence the market greatly. 

Tesla has a large so-called “Gigafactory” in Shanghai, producing the popular Model 3 and Model Y, per the company, and there are reports that Tesla aims to expand manufacturing capacity in the Far East, though the progress hasn’t been “entirely smooth” in recent years, according to Fortune. 

Musk, however, seems to be satisfied with the pace. 

“We are very happy with our progress in China,” Musk said in a video clip filmed during Xi’s visit, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Nigeria Today (@NigeriasToday). 

China has rapidly ascended as the world’s leader in EV use, with 11 million vehicles at the end of 2022. There were only 1,600 EVs on the road there in 2010. The U.S. has had healthy growth since that time as well, from 3,800 EVs to 2.1 million last year, all per data collector Statista. Per Reuters, Tesla accounts for about half the U.S. market

China is also home to the world’s largest EV company by sales, BYD, at nearly 1.2 million vehicles through the first half of 2023, with Tesla in second, with close to 890,000 sales over that period, as Statista reported.

Tesla recently launched an updated version of the popular Model 3 in China, Europe, and some other international markets. CNBC reported that the “restyled” EV has a longer range and a 12% higher price than what was being offered. 

Meanwhile, China has a strong influence over much of the foreign supply chain for metals essential to EV batteries, including lithium and graphite. Chinese officials recently implemented export rules for graphite, causing angst around the world regarding its availability. 

But, Xi seemed to send a message of cooperation (despite the recent supply policies) during his address to officials in San Francisco. He wasn’t, however, speaking specifically about EVs. 

“The [No.1] question for us is, are we adversaries or partners?” Xi asked the audience, per CNBC.

The answer could have a great impact on EVs and other industries, making Tesla’s expansion in China worth watching. 

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