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Published 18:52 IST, April 29th 2024

Elon Musk pushes for nod to self-driving, sees China visit win key endorsement

Musk’s meetings included one with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who hailed Tesla's development in China.

Reported by: Business Desk
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Musk's visit gives self-driving a push: Billionaire Elon Musk has pushed for China's approval for electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla to roll out advanced driver-assistance systems in a surprise visit to Beijing that concluded on Monday. The move could boost revenues at a time when Tesla is under pressure from Chinese rivals such as EV maker BYD. 
Tesla CEO Musk arrived in the Chinese capital on Sunday where he speculated to discuss the rollout of Full Self-Driving (FSD) software and permission to transfer driving data overseas, said a person privy to the matter. 

Musk’s meetings included one with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who hailed Tesla's development in China as a successful example of US-China economic and trade cooperation though state media did not say if the two had discussed FSD.

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However, the US automaker won a key endorsement that coincided with his trip - from a top Chinese auto association which said Tesla's Model 3 and Y cars were among models found to be compliant with China's data security requirements.

Two different sources told Reuters that Tesla had reached an agreement with Chinese tech giant Baidu to use the mapping license for data collection on China's public roads, which they described as a key step for FSD to be introduced in the country. Tesla shares were last up 7 per cent in premarket trade.

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Data security and compliance have been among the reasons why the US electric vehicle maker, which rolled out the most autonomous version of its Autopilot software four years ago, has yet to make FSD fully available in China, its second-largest market globally, despite customer demand.

Musk seeks data transfer 

Chinese regulators had since 2021 required Tesla to store all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai, leaving the company unable to transfer any back to the United States. Musk is looking to secure approval to transfer data collected in the country abroad to train algorithms for its autonomous driving technologies, the person said.

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Musk's visit to China, first reported by Reuters, was not flagged publicly and the person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak with media.

The plane that Musk arrived on departed from Beijing Capital Airport at 0517 GMT, according to Chinese flight tracking app Flight Manager and was headed to Anchorage, Alaska. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk's departure. It remains unclear as to what, if any, other regulatory approvals Tesla will need to obtain or what conditions the company may have before it makes FSD fully available in China.

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Equity analysts at Wedbush called the surprise visit "a major moment for Tesla". Rival Chinese automakers and suppliers such as XPeng and Huawei Technologies have been seeking to gain an advantage over Tesla by rolling out similar software.

(With Reuters Inputs) 

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18:52 IST, April 29th 2024