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Chinese Carmakers Are Tesla’s ‘Hardest, Smartest’ Rivals: Musk

Asked about rival companies in China, Musk said he respected Chinese carmakers and called it the most competitive market in the world

Elon Musk says that Chinese carmakers are his toughest rivals because they 'work the hardest and smartest'.
Elon Musk has said positive things about Chinese workers before. Photo: Reuters.


Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk rates carmakers in China as his toughest rivals and the country he expects will “most likely to be second” in electric vehicles.

China is Tesla’s biggest market and the site of the company’s biggest production facility. It accounted for two-thirds of all electric vehicles sales around the world in 2022.

It’s also a market that has embraced EVs and is replete with rivals competing on style and price, including Xpeng, Nio and BYD.

Releasing financial results on Wednesday, Tesla said they showed recent deep price cuts were stimulating demand, and that the company is cutting costs with a view to growing through what Musk expects will be a recession this year.


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‘Chinese are hard-working’

Asked about Tesla’s competition, Musk responded that he respected car companies in China, calling it the most competitive market in the world. Musk did not identify any Chinese automakers by name.

“They work the hardest and they work the smartest,” he said. “And so we guess, there is probably some company out of China as the most likely to be second to Tesla.”

Tesla recently promoted China chief Tom Zhu to run US factories and sales in North America and Europe.

“Our team is winning in China. And think we actually are able to attract the best talent in China. So hopefully that continues.”

Tesla has cut prices in response to growing competition and slowing demand in China, followed by cuts in the United States and other markets.

Musk has praised Chinese workers and competitors before. In 2021, he called Chinese automakers the “most competitive in the world,” saying some of them are very good at software.

He also said Chinese workers had been “burning the 3am oil” to keep Tesla’s factories running during Covid lockdowns last year.


‘Tweet fraud’ court case

The billionaire has been in testifying in a US court recently, defending a tweet – about considering to take Tesla private – that lawyers for investors who lost money claim was misleading.

The Tesla chief insists his ‘take private’ proposal was genuine and that he was being transparent and doing “the right thing” by Tesla shareholders.

The ‘tweet fraud’ case is ongoing.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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