Elon Musk Discusses Fully Self-Driving in China

image source, Good pictures

image caption, China is Tesla's second largest market

Elon Musk is visiting Beijing with media reports that he is discussing enabling autonomous driving in Tesla cars in China.

Mr Musk wants to operate fully self-driving (FSD) in China and transfer data collected overseas to train its mechanisms.

FSD is available in countries including USA but not in China.

The news comes after a US report linked Tesla's self-driving systems to at least 13 crashes.

During a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Mr Musk was quoted by state media as saying Tesla was ready to deepen cooperation with China to “achieve more win-win results”.

In response, Mr Li told Mr Musk that the Chinese market was “always open to foreign-funded companies”.

China is Tesla's second largest market. Other carmakers, such as Guangzhou-headquartered Xpeng, are trying to compete with Tesla by rolling out similar self-driving functions in their cars.

On Sunday, Mr Musk described Chinese carmakers as “the most competitive car companies in the world”.

Tesla has previously taken steps to reassure Chinese authorities about the introduction of FSD in the country, including establishing a data center in Shanghai to process data on Chinese consumers in compliance with local laws.

The trip comes days after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was investigating whether a recall successfully addressed safety concerns related to Tesla's driver assistance system.

Tesla's software is supposed to ensure that drivers are paying attention and that the feature is only in use in appropriate situations, such as driving on highways.

Mr Musk has promised that Teslas will be able to operate as autonomous “robotaxis” for years to come. In 2015, Tesla said it would achieve “full autonomy” by 2018. And in 2019, the company said Robotaxis would be operational by next year.

This month, Tesla's chief executive said the company's robotaxi will be revealed in August.

Critics accuse Mr Musk of continuing to raise the prospect of fully autonomous driving to boost the company's share price against a backdrop of challenges including falling global demand for electric vehicles and competition from cheaper Chinese manufacturers. Mr Musk denies the allegations.

“Tesla prices have to change frequently to match production with demand,” Mr Musk said recently on X, the microblogging site formerly known as Twitter owned by the billionaire.

Tesla recently reported a 13% drop in vehicle sales to $17.3bn (£13.7bn) for the first three months of the year.

Overall sales across Tesla fell 9%, while its profit fell to $1.13bn compared to $2.51bn in the same period last year.

So far in 2024, its share price has fallen 32%.

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