An aerial view of Tesla's factory in Shanghai in August. The factory is expected to start operations by the end of this year. （SU XIAOZHOU/FOR CHINA DAILY）
Firm says work completed on main part of manufacturing facility in Shanghai
Tesla's 50-billion-yuan ($7 billion) gigafactory in Shanghai, which is the company's first such facility outside the United States, is expected to commence operations at the end of this year.
The electric car giant updated the progress in building the gigafactory at a signing ceremony for intelligent connected electric vehicle projects held at the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone's Lingang Special Area on Thursday.
Tesla explained the main part of the factory in Lingang has completed construction. Workshops for punching, painting and general assembly are ready for production. The first body in white－the car body with its sheet metal components welded together－has been delivered to the assembly line for further procedures such as painting and installation of moving parts.
Tesla's CEO Elon Musk said in a Twitter message on Wednesday the company "is building a major engineering team in China, including heavy focus on software/firmware for factory and car".
In a wanted ad posted on Tesla's official WeChat account on Sept 2, the company said it has opened eight job vacancies in China, which are all technical positions.
Tao Lin, the global vice-president of Tesla, said it took the company only six months from signing contracts with the municipal government of Shanghai in July last year to break ground in Lingang. The first cars are likely to roll off the assembly line by the end of this year. The progress exemplified the efficiency of the special area in Shanghai, she said.
Lingang Special Area, where Tesla's factory is located, was officially included into the Shanghai FTZ on Aug 20 with a focus on high-end manufacturing industries such as integrated circuits and biomedicine.
During the signing ceremony on Thursday, the local administrative body of Lingang signed agreements with 24 intelligent connected electric vehicle projects that cover manufacturing, application, services and functional platforms. The total investment is worth 8 billion yuan.
Lingang Special Area executive deputy director Zhu Zhisong said that an industrial cluster of intelligent connected electric vehicles is taking shape there.
The local administrative committee will choose the most innovative projects with scientific research capabilities and industrial application prospects to link different industries with the help of functional platforms. The purpose is to create a globally influential electric car industrial cluster, he said.
Public information showed the total industrial output of carmakers and car parts manufacturers reached 38 billion yuan in Lingang last year, surpassing the electric equipment industry to become the sector with the highest yield in the area.
At this time, Lingang has set up an area of 7 square kilometers for closed tests of unmanned intelligent connected vehicles. The open test road for driverless cars in Lingang extends some 26 kilometers.
Yuan Guohua, chairman of Shanghai Lingang Holdings Corp, said the zone's administrative committee has come up with 50 favorable policies in late August to support the development of the automotive industry through measures on listing and equity investment.
Tesla's Tao said that Lingang has become a dream place for the company. As more favorable policies are introduced, the official said Tesla would like to strengthen cooperation with all parties in the development of intelligent connected technologies and the promotion of electric vehicles.