America's Next Tesla Will Be Designed In China

Design / Comments

Wanted: new China-based design chief.

Tesla came awfully close to meeting its 500,000-unit delivery goal for 2020 with an official tally of 499,550 vehicles. With two new Gigafactories set to come online later this year along with increased output at Shanghai due to high Model Y demand, Tesla should have no problem delivering well over half-a-million vehicles in 2021. The first Cybertrucks will contribute to that but CEO Elon Musk knows such a vehicle is not for everyone, hence his previously stated intention to launch a $25,000 volume model.

Some early reports claimed it'll be a China-only vehicle but Reuters claims it has obtained exclusive information indicating otherwise. In addition, Tesla is currently searching for a China-based design director for the project. This search has apparently been quietly underway for four months and the focus is on "bi-cultural" candidates with at least 20 years of design experience.

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2017-2021 Tesla Model 3 Front Angle View Tesla
2017-2021 Tesla Model 3 Side View Driving Tesla

Most importantly, this individual will have to bridge the gap between Chinese and US design tastes. Tesla's full plans for its future Chinese design studio remain unknown except that Musk himself said last year that such as a studio "would be super cool" as it would "create a China design and engineering center to actually design an original car in China for worldwide consumption. I think this would be very exciting."

Anonymous sources familiar with Tesla's plans further indicate that once this new designer chief is selected, the automaker will then recruit that individual's team with up to 20 people. Every stage of the new affordable global Tesla model will be designed in China, including clay and 3D modeling.

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Conducting Chinese consumer research is another task the studio must complete. Last year, a third of Tesla's global sales came from China, a major factor behind the decision to set up shop in the country. "They want to give vehicle design a lot more bias toward China; they have already done a lot here, setting up a major manufacturing site and having sold a ton of EVs, but it seems Tesla's ready to put roots down," one of the sources said.

The finalized design will then be transferred to Tesla's California-based engineers. Expect this $25k Tesla to be a compact car smaller than the Tesla Model 3. However, compact cars account for just ten percent of new vehicle sales in America. That figure climbs to 25 percent in China.

2017-2020 Tesla Model 3 Side View Tesla
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Tesla
Source Credits: Reuters

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