Tesla is on track this year to complete its new R&D center in Shanghai that will engineer and design its new $25,000 electric car.

Tesla R&D center in China

Just over a year ago, Tesla announced plans to establish a new R&D and design center in China to build “a Chinese-style” electric car.

Tesla started taking design submissions for its Chinese-made small electric car last summer and started hiring for the program shortly after.

Now Tom Zhu, the head of Tesla in China, gave an update on the automaker’s progress on its new R&D center in China during a new interview:

The executive said about Tesla’s Chinese research and development center:

This center is in the Tesla Lingang Gigafactory, where we are now. We are now building our China R&D right here. This R&D center is also the first Tesla R&D outside the United States. The research and development center has all necessary disciplines, covering vehicle design, vehicle engineering, vehicle development, vehicle testing, etc. We now expect it up and running in the middle of this year.

He wasn’t clear about the exact timeline and he could have meant by the end of the year, according to the translation.

Zhu noted that there will be over 20 laboratories in the R&D center.

He also said that the new facilities will be used to deliver Tesla’s next electric vehicle:

We will provide very good conditions to facilitate our R&D engineers working toward our ultimate goal. The ultimate goal has been mentioned in many public occasions. In the future, we want to design, develop, and produce an original model in China. It is manufactured here and sold to the whole world.

The executive reiterated that the R&D center is the “starting point” of that goal.

Tesla’s $25,000 electric car

When talking about what Tesla’s new battery cell and “structural battery pack” architecture could enable at Battery Day last year, CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla will be making a $25,000 electric car.

The CEO commented in the announcement:

Tesla will make a compelling $25,000 electric vehicle that is also fully autonomous.

He made it clear that this new price point is achieved through Tesla’s new battery cell and battery manufacturing effort.

Musk also added that the new $25,000 electric car is going to come to market in about three years, when Tesla has ramped up production of its new battery cell.

Tesla didn’t reveal any other spec on the car, but Musk has previously hinted that it would have more than 200 miles of range.

This $25,000 Tesla is expected to be the vehicle that is originally designed and produced in China.

Recently, Tesla’s Chinese division submitted some documents to the government about the planning of the production of the new vehicle at Gigafactory Shanghai.

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