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Exclusive: Tesla searches for design director to make cars for China-source



According to three people familiar with the matter, Tesla is looking for a design director in China as part of opening a “full-featured” studio in Shanghai or Beijing and designing electric cars that suit the tastes of Chinese consumers. Things.

File photo: A visitor wearing a mask inspects a Chinese-made Tesla Model Y sports utility vehicle (SUV) in the showroom of an electric car manufacturer in Beijing, China, January 5, 2021. Reuters/ Tingshu Wang / File Photo

The source said that in the past four months, the human resources manager of the American automaker and several headhunters have been trawling the industry.

They added that they are looking for “dual-cultural”

; candidates with more than 20 years of experience, who are familiar with Chinese tastes and can bridge the gap between China and the United States.

According to people familiar with the matter, Tesla’s global design director Franz von Holzhausen interviewed some candidates, although it is not clear how many potential candidates the company and recruiters will meet.

Due to the sensitivity and confidentiality of this matter, all three sources spoke with Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Tesla and von Holzhausen did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

According to data from the consulting company LMC Automotive, China is the world’s largest auto market. Together with the largest all-electric vehicle market, sales this year are expected to reach approximately 1.5 million vehicles. It is also Tesla’s second largest market after the United States.

The automaker’s plans for the design studio have not yet been fully formulated. Sources believe that Tesla may wait for the tense Sino-U.S. relationship under the leadership of the new US president before making a final decision on the new move and all the details. Clear.

According to sources, the talent search is mainly concentrated in China, which coincides with Tesla boss Elon Musk’s comments early last year.

“I think it’s a very cool thing to… establish a Chinese design and engineering center, actually designing an original car in China for global consumption. I think it will be very exciting.” Said at a press conference in Shanghai.

Active

Musk’s interest in developing cars in China is part of Tesla’s broader drive to push the company’s global sales to exceed the 500,000 mark per year, which only reached 4.5 million vehicles in 2020.

All three sources said that Tesla started looking for the director of the Chinese studio around September, and it wasn’t until December that a series of activities appeared, when many headhunters used LinkedIn and other methods to find candidates. people.

A source who knows about Tesla’s headhunting activities in China said that once a design director is hired, Tesla will recruit the director’s team. There are about 20 people in this team, including designers and helping to transform the design effect. The picture is transformed into a model of a stylist in clay.

According to all sources, the planned center is intended to be a comprehensive design agency, one of which describes it as a “full-function studio”, which not only helps conceptualize the design of the car, but also allows the final shape to be derived-digital Three-dimensional data of the three models.

The data can then be handed over to Tesla’s automotive engineers, most of whom are located in northern California.

Two sources said that Tesla China Studio may also conduct research on the tastes of Chinese consumers and work on cars that are expected to be produced at the Shanghai Tesla Automobile Assembly Plant, which will adjust its design. To ensure that specific components are suitable for engineers’ needs. specification.

“They want to make vehicle design more biased against China; they have done a lot of work here, built a major manufacturing plant, and sold many electric cars, but Tesla seems to be ready to take root.” A source said.

The person added that this push may lead to more independence for Tesla China. He spent more than ten years in China working in design centers operated by global automakers and elsewhere.

LMC said that Chinese consumers bought about 145,000 Tesla cars last year, accounting for about one-third of the company’s total global sales.

$25,000 electric car

Two sources said that a possible “China-specific” model is a low-cost generator, such as a $25,000 electric car mentioned by Musk during the “Battery Day” event in September. He said Tesla may intend to bring it to the market.Three years

Musk said that Tesla is confident to enter the market with “a very eye-catching $25,000 electric car that also has complete autonomy.”

According to two sources and industry experts, at this price, this may be a compact car, smaller than Tesla’s Model 3, which is as cheap as some mainstream gasoline cars.

Compact cars are not a best-selling product in the United States. Ford (F-150) pickup trucks, SUVs, and mid-size cars, such as larger and taller cars, have the upper hand.

They account for about 10% of the overall US automotive market. In contrast, according to data from consulting firm LMC Automotive, compact cars account for 25% of China’s sales, or about 5 to 6 million vehicles per year.

Two sources and industry experts said that this is why the US$25,000 car in Musk’s plan is more suitable for the Chinese market.

Zhang Yeer, head of Automotive Foresight, a Shanghai consulting firm, said: “A compact Tesla car will perform well in China and other parts of Asia and Europe.” “This may severely weaken the performance of cars such as Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf. Sales.”

Reporting by Shirouzu Yanyan; Additional reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Pravin Char


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