Tesla breaks ground on Shanghai factory

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk, center, and Shanghai’s Mayor Ying Yong, right, attend the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony in Shanghai. (Reuters)
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The land of Tesla Gigafactory at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai. (Reuters)
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A Chinese flag is seen on the land secured by Tesla for its Gigafactory in Shanghai, China. (Reuters)
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Tesla plans to produce its Model 3 and Model Y cars in the initial phase of production at the Shanghai plant. (Reuters)
Updated 07 January 2019

Tesla breaks ground on Shanghai factory

  • ‘Looking forward to breaking ground on the @Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory today!’ Musk wrote in a post on Twitter
  • Tesla has said it aims to produce its Model 3 mass-market car from 2019 at the new plant

BEIJING: Tesla broke ground Monday for a factory in Shanghai, its first outside the United States.

CEO Elon Musk said Monday on Twitter that the company will start production in China of its Model 3 and a planned crossover by the end of the year.

Tesla announced plans in July to build the Gigafactory 3 facility in China, the biggest electric vehicle market, despite trade tension between Beijing and Washington. That followed Beijing’s announcement it would end restrictions this year on foreign ownership of electric vehicle producers in an effort to spur industry development.

“Looking forward to breaking ground on the @Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory today!” said Musk on Twitter. “Aiming to finish initial construction this summer, start Model 3 production end of year & reach high volume production next year.”

China’s state broadcaster CCTV showed Musk and other Tesla and local officials attending a chilly ceremony in the rain Monday in Shanghai’s outskirts.

The Shanghai factory will produce “affordable versions of 3/Y for greater China,” Musk said. The company refers to a planned crossover that has yet to receive a formal name as the Y.

Higher-priced models will be built in the United States for export to China, Musk said.

Tesla, based on Palo Alto, California, global automakers including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Corp. that are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing electric vehicles in China.

Local production would eliminate risks from tariffs and other import controls. It would help Tesla develop parts suppliers to support service and make its vehicles more appealing to mainstream Chinese buyers.

Tesla said in October it had signed an agreement for a 210-acre (84-hectare) site in the Lingang district in southeastern Shanghai.

Shanghai is a center of China’s auto industry and home to state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp., the main local manufacturer for GM and VW.

Tesla has yet to give a price tag but the Shanghai government said it would be the biggest foreign investment there to date.

The company faces competition from Chinese brands including BYD Auto and BAIC Group that already sell tens of thousands of hybrid and pure-electric sedans and SUVs annually.

Until now, foreign automakers that wanted to manufacture in China were required to work through state-owned partners. Foreign brands balked at bringing electric vehicle technology into China to avoid having to share it with potential competitors.

The first of the new electric models being developed by global automakers to hit the market, Nissan’s Sylphy Zero Emission, began rolling off a production line in southern China in August.

Lower-priced electric models from GM, Volkswagen and other global brands are due to hit the market starting this year, well before Tesla is up and running in Shanghai.

Russian court jails US investor pending fraud trial

Updated 16 February 2019

Russian court jails US investor pending fraud trial

MOSCOW: A Russian court on Saturday jailed the US founder of a major investment firm for two months over fraud charges he says were fabricated for use in a shareholder battle.
Michael Calvey, founder of the multi-billion-dollar investment fund Baring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP), was placed under arrest until April 13 as he and five others await trial on charges they embezzled 2.5 billion rubles ($37.7 million).
Authorities detained four BVCP employees on Friday, including French national Phillipe Delpal.
Two other suspects include a former fund employee and someone at another firm mentioned in the probe. All six are now under pre-trial arrest.
In a statement Saturday, Baring Vostok said the claims made against its employees “have no merit.”
The case has already drawn comparisons to other high-profile probes against foreign investors in Russia, notably one against Bill Browder and the Hermitage Capital fund.
Ironically, it comes as Russia hosts a high-profile investment forum in its Black Sea city Sochi.
Calvey says he is innocent and argued in court that the probe is a bid to exert pressure on him amid a shareholder conflict within Vostochniy Bank, which he is trying to resolve in a London arbitration court.
The charges against him are intended to “pressure Baring Vostok to drop its arbitration claims in London or to obstruct the new share emission of Vostochniy Bank,” Calvey alleged according to a statement by Baring Vostok on Saturday.
Investigators say that a firm controlled by Calvey in 2017 owed 2.5 billion rubles to Vostochniy bank and paid the debt with a 59.9 percent stake in the Luxembourg company International Financial Technology Group (IFTG), which was valued at three billion rubles.
The investigators claim that IFTG’s real value was only 600,000 rubles.
The fraud claim against Calvey was filed with the FSB security service this month by Sherzod Yusupov, a minority shareholder in Vostochniy Bank, Russian agencies reported.
Baring Vostok controls more than 52 percent of Vostochniy Bank, while 32 percent is owned by Artyom Avetisyan, Russian reports said.
Calvey said in court that he and Avetisyan are tangled in a shareholder dispute, and that by filing the claim Yusupov was in fact acting on Avetisyan’s behalf.
BVCP is a veteran investor in Russia, with current and past projects that include the Internet company Yandex, online retailer Ozon.ru, several drugstore and food store chains, and Russia’s leading online classifieds service Avito.
Some Russian officials have supported Calvey, with Rosnano board chairman Anatoly Chubais calling him “one of the most respected investors” whose efforts “attracted about four billion dollars in foreign direct investment to Russia.”