Cybertrucks Shipped to China Signal Tesla Doubling Down on the Local Market

Tesla flew several Cybertrucks prototypes to China 8 photos
Photo: High-achieving Youth-Hua Che Wei Sir via Weibo, @thinkercar, @Sino_Market via X
Franz von Holzhausen in ChinaFranz von Holzhausen in ChinaFranz von Holzhausen in ChinaTesla flew several Cybertrucks prototypes to ChinaTesla flew several Cybertrucks prototypes to ChinaTesla flew several Cybertrucks prototypes to ChinaTesla flew several Cybertrucks prototypes to China
Tesla appears to be doubling down on its China strategy after the company's chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, visited Giga Shanghai. Tesla also flew Cybertruck prototypes for display at its showrooms in China as part of an awareness campaign.
Tesla hasn't made a secret of the important role China plays in its long-term strategy. It's understandable, considering that we're talking about the biggest EV market in the world. But it's more than that, as Giga Shanghai is now supplying many Tesla markets around the world, including Canada. At the moment, this is Tesla's most efficient gigafactory and the one with the highest production capacity, at over one million cars.

Like many other companies, Tesla is not putting all its eggs in the same basket. Gigafactory Mexico, recently announced, is projected to compete with Giga Shanghai regarding production capacity (two million cars when fully expanded) and efficiency, thanks to the more modern manufacturing processes. Tesla is poised to announce another gigafactory in India soon, which will compete directly with Giga Shanghai.

Still, Tesla's Chinese gigafactory will not lose its shine over the years. The local market is too important, and the supply chains Tesla established are impossible to replicate in other parts of the world. In time, Giga Shanghai will become even more critical for Tesla, not less. This was crystal clear after Tesla handed the Project Highland development to its R&D team in China. The refreshed Model 3 owes its design changes to this Chinese team, which also used local customers' feedback to improve the sedan.

This became even more obvious after Tesla's chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, visited China. According to a report by Shanghai Securities News, Tesla will further refine its vehicles sold in China based on what local customers want. Tesla's R&D center in Shanghai plays a crucial role as the American EV maker is trying to meet the unique needs of the Chinese market.

Tesla aims to have vehicles explicitly designed for the local market, and not only in China. With the third-generation EVs, Tesla will have a common architecture and integrated manufacturing processes, but the vehicle design and features will be tailor-made for each market. This ensures the cars are best suited to compete with local brands, which are becoming more popular, especially in China.

Tesla is also trying to boost brand awareness in the country, and it uses the Cybertruck's massive popularity for this. At least two Cybertruck prototypes have been flown to China to be displayed in Tesla showrooms. This is a move Elon Musk confirmed more than a week ago when the first rumors started surfacing in Chinese chat groups. Sadly, as Musk indicated, getting the Cybertruck road legal in China would be very difficult.

Whether Tesla will certify and sell the Cybertruck in China or other markets outside North America is unclear. Many argued that its GVWR would make it impossible to drive in most countries with a private driver's license. Still, many people in China and even Europe have made reservations for the electric pickup.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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