Tesla holds on on Shanghai land buy as U.S.-China tensions mounts

U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc has halted plans to buy land to expand its Shanghai plant and make it a global export hub, people familiar with the matter said, due to uncertainty created by U.S.-China tensions.

With 25% tariffs on imported Chinese electric vehicles imposed on top of existing levies under former President Donald Trump still in place, Tesla now intends to limit the proportion of China output in its global production, two of the four people said.

Tesla had earlier considered expanding exports of its China-made entry-level Model 3 to more markets, including the United States, sources confirmed.

Tesla currently ships China-made Model 3s to Europe, where it is building a factory in Germany.

Tesla’s Shanghai factory is designed to make up to 500,000 cars per year, and is currently producing Model 3 and Model Y vehicles at a rate of 450,000 units per year.

In March, Tesla refrained from bidding on a plot of land across the road from the plant as it no longer aimed to boost China production capacity significantly, at least for now.

In a statement to Reuters, Tesla said its Shanghai factory was “developing as planned”.

The Shanghai city government, a key supporter in Tesla’s establishment of a wholly-owned factory in China – the first and only foreign passenger car plant not required to form a joint venture – did not respond to a request for comment.

Tesla had never declared an intention to acquire the land, which is about half the size of the 200-acre (80 hectare) plot housing Tesla’s current facility and would enable the company to lift capacity by another 200,000 to 300,000 cars.

Tesla’s China sales are surging despite mounting regulatory pressure in the country after consumer disputes over product safety and scrutiny over how it handles data.

It generated $3 billion in revenue in China in the first three months of this year, more than tripling year-earlier sales and accounting for 30% of total revenue.

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