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
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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.


World leaders prepare for Davos amid gloomy forecasts

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019
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World leaders prepare for Davos amid gloomy forecasts

  • Delegates to annual forum to include presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan

DUBAI: World leaders are preparing to head to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, amid the riskiest global backdrop in years, according to a report from the event organizer itself.

As the WEF announced the names of some of the 3,000 participants set to attend the meeting and details of the four-day agenda, it also published a gloomy outlook on international politics, economics, the environment and technology. 

Rising geopolitical and geo-economic tensions are the most urgent risks in 2019, with 90 percent of experts surveyed expecting further economic confrontation between major powers, according to the WEF’s annual Global Risks Report.

“The world’s ability to foster collective action in the face of urgent major crises has reached crisis levels, with worsening international relations hindering action across a growing array of serious challenges. Meanwhile, a darkening economic outlook, in part caused by geopolitical tensions, looks set to further reduce the potential for international cooperation in 2019,” it added.

Although political and economic worries were top of the immediate agenda for the 1,000 experts polled by the WEF, the environment and climate change are also a cause for concern, as are “rapidly evolving” cyber and technological threats, the WEF said.

Børge Brende, the WEF president, said: “With global trade and economic growth at risk in 2019, there is a more urgent need than ever to renew the architecture of international cooperation. We simply do not have the gunpowder to deal with the kind of slowdown that current dynamics might lead us toward. What we need now is coordinated, concerted action to sustain growth and to tackle the grave threats facing our world today.”

The leaders who will begin to arrive in Switzerland in the next week include Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan; Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; and Wang Qishan, vice president of China.

With US President Donald Trump pulling out of the meeting to deal with the partial government shutdown, the American delegation is expected to be led by Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.

The Middle East is well represented at the meeting, with at least nine heads of state or government from the region, including Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia will be represented by a team of senior policymakers and business leaders.

The risk report will give them all food for thought in the Alpine resort.

Asking whether the world is “sleepwalking into a crisis,” the report responded: “Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening. The world’s move into a new phase of strongly state-centered politics continued throughout 2018.

“The idea of ‘taking back control’ — whether domestically from political rivals or externally from multilateral or supranational organizations — resonates across many countries and many issues.”

Macro-economic risks have moved into sharper focus, it said. 

“Financial market volatility increased and the headwinds facing the global economy intensified. The rate of global growth appears to have peaked,” the report said, pointing to a slowdown in growth forecasts for China as well as high levels of global debt — at 225 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), significantly higher than before the financial crisis 10 years ago.

Raising the prospect of a “climate catastrophe,” the report said extreme weather, which many experts attribute to rapid climate change, was a risk of great concern. “The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear,’ the WEF said.

Of the 3,000 participants at Davos, which runs from Jan. 22 to 25, around 78 percent are men, with an average age of 54. 

The oldest will be the 92-year-old British broadcaster David Attenborough, the youngest 16-year-old South African wildlife photographer Skye Meaker.