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Elon Musk heads to China to advocate for autopilot, a week after he postponed India visit: Report

Tesla is grappling with slower growth for electric vehicles in both its main markets of the United States and China. Therefore, Elon Musk's latest visit is seen as a move to boost electronic vehicle sales in the world's second most populous country.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Washington Updated on: April 28, 2024 11:04 IST
Tesla CEO Elon Musk china visit
Image Source : AP Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was on a flight heading to Beijing on Sunday to kick off a surprise trip in the electric vehicle maker's second-biggest market, news agency Reuters reported citing two people with knowledge of the matter. Musk's visit to China was not flagged publicly and the people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak with media. Tesla did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Why did Elon Musk make a surprise visit to China?

Musk is seeking to meet senior Chinese officials in Beijing to discuss the rollout of Full-Self Driving (FSD) software in China and to obtain approval to transfer data collected in the country abroad to train algorithms for its autonomous driving technologies, one of the people said. Tesla has since 2021 stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai as required by Chinese regulators and has not transferred any back to the United States.

The US EV maker rolled out FSD, the most autonomous version of its Autopilot software, four years ago but has yet to make it available in China despite customers urging it to do so. Musk said this month Tesla may make FSD available to customers in China "very soon", in response to a query on social media platform X. Rival Chinese automakers such as Xpeng have been seeking to gain an advantage over Tesla by rolling out similar software.

Elon Musk cancelled India visit 

His trip came a week after Musk cancelled a planned trip to India where he was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was due to announce plans to enter the South Asian market.  Musk in June last year said that he was planning to visit India in 2024, adding that he was confident that the electric carmaker would be in India and would do so "as soon as humanly possible". PM Modi had also extended an invitation to the billionaire to visit India. "I would like to thank PM Modi for his support and hopefully, we will be able to announce something in the future," Musk said at this time.

In November, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal visited Tesla's manufacturing facility in California's Fremont and said that the US electric car maker is on its way to double its components imports from India. Goyal said he was proud to see the growing importance of auto component suppliers from India in the Tesla EV supply chain.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Elon Musk postpones India trip due to 'very heavy Tesla obligations', was scheduled to meet PM Modi

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