Elon Musk is in China to discuss enabling full self-driving

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, China is Tesla's second largest market

Elon Musk is visiting Beijing with media reports saying he aims to discuss enabling self-driving mode in Tesla cars in China.

Musk wants to enable full self-driving (FSD) in China and transfer data collected in the country abroad to train its algorithms.

FSD is available in countries including the US but not in China.

The news came after a US report linked Tesla's self-driving modes to at least 13 crashes, resulting in one death.

During a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Musk was quoted by state media as saying that Tesla is willing to cooperate in-depth with China “to achieve more win-win results.”

In response, Lee told Musk that the Chinese market “will always be open to foreign-funded companies,” according to reports.

China is Tesla's second largest market. Other automakers like Guangzhou-based Xpeng are trying to compete with Tesla by rolling out similar self-driving functionality in their cars.

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

Tesla has previously taken steps to reassure Chinese authorities about the FSD rollout in the country, including setting up a data center in Shanghai to process data about Chinese consumers in accordance with local laws.

Despite requirements for drivers to maintain focus on the road and be ready to take control at a moment's notice when autonomous driving is enabled, drivers involved in crashes “were not adequately engaged,” NHTSA said. The regulator's analysis was conducted ahead of the recall, which Tesla said would fix the problem.

Tesla's software is supposed to make sure drivers are paying attention and that the feature is only in use in appropriate circumstances, such as highway driving.

Musk has promised that Tesla cars will be able to operate as autonomous “robo-taxis” for years. In 2015, he said Tesla would achieve “full autonomy” by 2018. In 2019, he said the company would have a working robotaxi by the following year.

This month, Tesla's CEO said he would unveil the company's robotaxi in August.

Critics regularly accuse Musk of exaggerating the prospects of full self-driving to prop up the company's stock price, which has fallen on the back of challenges including falling demand for electric vehicles around the world and competition from cheaper Chinese manufacturers. Mr. Musk denies these accusations.

“Tesla prices have to change frequently in order to match production with demand,” Musk said recently on X, the microblogging platform formerly known as Twitter that the billionaire owns.

Tesla recently announced a 13% drop in car sales to $17.3bn (£13.7bn) during the first three months of this year.

Total sales across Tesla fell by 9% while its profits fell sharply to $1.13 billion compared to $2.51 billion for the same period last year.

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