However, Musk’s own company has run into trouble in the world’s second-largest economy: In January, Tesla recalled more than 1.6 million electric vehicles in China to fix their steering software.

His arrival in China coincides with a cut-throat price war between firms desperate to get ahead in the fiercely competitive EV market.

China’s local car giant BYD – “Build Your Dreams” – beat out Tesla in last year’s fourth quarter to become the world’s top seller of EVs.

Tesla reclaimed that title in the first quarter of this year, but BYD remains firmly on top in its home market.

His visit also comes as Beijing hosts a massive auto show, which held press events from Thursday and opened to the public over the weekend.


Comments under posts about Musk’s arrival on the social media site Weibo were full of speculation that the celebrity tycoon would attend Auto China while in Beijing.

One user suggested Musk’s visit was motivated by a desire to test drive an SU7, the first car model released earlier this year by Chinese consumer tech giant Xiaomi.

Xiaomi’s entrance into the competitive EV sector appears to be off to a positive start, with CEO Lei Jun saying this month that pre-orders had outpaced expectations by three to five times.

Other commenters responded to reports that Musk’s trip was intended to give him an opportunity to talk with Chinese officials about the possibility of bringing Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology to the local market.

“FSD is Tesla’s last hope for saving its domestic sales,” one Weibo user said.

Musk’s interests in China have long raised eyebrows in Washington, with President Joe Biden saying in November 2022 that his links to foreign countries were “worthy” of scrutiny.

The tycoon has also caused controversy by suggesting the self-ruled island of Taiwan should become part of China – a stance that was welcomed by Chinese officials but deeply angered Taipei.


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