Tesla's Elon Musk lands in China amid hopes to boost electronic vehicle sales

Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with China’s Prime Minister Li Qiang, who promised that his country would “always” be open to foreign firms, and will provide a "better business environment,” state media reported.

“China’s very large-scale market will always be open to foreign-funded firms,” Li told Musk, who landed in Beijing earlier in the day amid hopes that he will bring his company's autonomous driving technology to China, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Promising that Beijing would do more to help foreign firms, Li said: “China will stick to its word and will continue working hard to expand market access and strengthen service guarantees."

Beijing would also provide foreign companies with “a better business environment so that firms from all over the world can have peace of mind while investing in China,” Li added.

The world's one of the richest men also met with the head of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Ren Hongbin “to discuss next steps in cooperation and other topics,” according to the broadcaster.

Musk’s latest trip also coincides with the 2024 Beijing Auto Show, which kicked off on April 24 and runs through May 4, the daily South China Morning Post reported.

Musk, who also owns X and SpaceX among others, is seeking to meet senior Chinese officials to discuss the rollout of Full-Self Driving (FSD) software in China and to obtain approval to transfer data collected in the country abroad to train algorithms for its autonomous driving technologies.

This is Musk's second visit in less than a year. He had made a three-day trip to the world's second most populated country in June last.

His latest visit is seen as a move to boost electronic vehicle sales in China as Tesla is grappling with slower growth for electric vehicles in both its main markets of the US and China. 

The Austin, Texas-based carmaker has faced fierce competition from Chinese EV makers over the past few years forcing the company to cut the prices of its Shanghai-made vehicles by up to 6% to maintain its leading position in China’s premium segment.

Tesla, the front-runner in China’s premium EV segment, delivered 603,664 Model 3s and Model Ys made at its Shanghai Gigafactory to buyers in China last year, an increase of 37.3% over 2022.

China has seen the increased adoption of advanced driver-assistance systems and higher levels of autonomous driving functions in mass-produced cars.

Musk recently said Tesla’s autopilot and FSD options could soon be provided to its Chinese customers.

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