With the press of a button, Elon Musk set in motion Monday a big first for Tesla. Per Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal, the company's first car-manufacturing plant outside the US broke ground a couple of hours from Shanghai, a four-year effort that comes during a turbulent time there due to the tariff war with the US. Musk says the plant should be ready to start churning out Model 3 cars by the end of 2019; the Model Y will also eventually be produced there for greater China.
The move to China allows Tesla to capitalize on a recent rule revamp that allows foreigners to fully own their own companies on Chinese soil, instead of having to team up with Chinese partners. Business Insider notes that producing Tesla vehicles locally would also help the company circumvent tariffs wrought by the US-China trade war, though Tesla parts made in the US and shipped to China would still probably face a tariff. Worrisome, however, is that sales of passenger cars in China haven't been doing so hot lately, with Bloomberg noting they declined for six consecutive months through November. Tesla hopes to eventually make half a million cars annually at the new factory, which CNN notes is about five times the number produced in the US. (Read more Tesla stories.)