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  • - [Narrator] This is the Roadster,

  • (Roadster whooshing)

  • the first car Tesla ever released in 2008

  • and it was developed and produced in California.

  • (upbeat music) (tape whirring)

  • Fast forward 13 years to today

  • and you can find Teslas on the road around the world.

  • - I think we're close

  • to establishing a Tesla presence in Russia.

  • - [Narrator] But Tesla isn't just selling cars abroad,

  • it's also setting up factories around the world.

  • - The key for Tesla's global expansion

  • is going to be expanding manufacturing capacity quickly.

  • - [Narrator] Tesla's push comes at a time

  • when the stakes of going global are big

  • as the EV market will surge 775%

  • to about 35 million cars by 2030

  • and that can come with pitfalls.

  • (woman shouting in foreign language)

  • - [Narrator] After a spate of bad publicity in China,

  • Tesla sales took a hit in April

  • and auto analysts aren't sure if the company

  • can keep growing as fast

  • in one of its biggest markets.

  • - I think what Tesla's trying to do

  • is really drive home that first-mover advantage,

  • make sure it retains that number one spot.

  • - [Narrator] We analyzed three key speeches by Musk

  • in the past year to understand how Tesla plans

  • to put more of its vehicles on the road

  • all over the world.

  • (upbeat music)

  • First, we go to Moscow.

  • In May, Musk gave a speech via video conference

  • to hundreds of students

  • and tech entrepreneurs at a forum sponsored

  • by the Russian government.

  • He spoke about a wide range

  • of topics from politics and religion

  • to outer space.

  • - We need to establish a self-sustaining base

  • on the moon and up on Mars.

  • - [Narrator] But what really made headlines

  • was when he hinted at future plans

  • for a new factory.

  • - We're building one in Texas, Nevada, California

  • and over time, we will look to have factories

  • in other parts of the world

  • but potentially Russia at some point.

  • - [Narrator] The suggestion came as a surprise

  • because Tesla hasn't sold many cars in Russia.

  • There are around 700 vehicles on the roads there.

  • But Russia could fit a template Tesla has used before,

  • to open factories where it sees market potential.

  • - There are two big electric vehicle markets in the world:

  • China and Europe.

  • Tesla's already in China

  • and now it's opening up plants in Europe.

  • - [Narrator] That new plant is near Berlin

  • and auto analysts expect it to open in early 2022.

  • It's planning to produce half a million cars a year

  • and this would allow Tesla to directly sell its vehicles

  • to European countries

  • instead of importing them from China and the US

  • as it currently does.

  • With the three biggest markets covered,

  • auto analysts have been divided

  • over where Musk will set up shop next.

  • Some say he should double down

  • on the so-called BRIC countries.

  • - Brazil, Russia, India and China,

  • the big automakers are in Brazil

  • because that's a big market.

  • It's probably a good guess

  • that Tesla's looking at that.

  • - [Narrator] And of course, one of them

  • is the untapped market of Russia,

  • which grew by 95% last year.

  • - I think there's a lot of talent

  • and energy in Russia.

  • - [Narrator] Building factories in new countries

  • is a major logistical challenge,

  • especially with a hands-on CEO like Elon Musk.

  • - The big thing for Tesla right now

  • is the Giga Berlin, so it's in Berlin.

  • I've spent a fair bit of time in Berlin working on that.

  • - [Narrator] In a one-on-one video call

  • with The Wall Street Journal's editor in chief

  • in December last year,

  • Musk explained how he liked working closely

  • with his engineers.

  • - When I have spent too much time in a conference room,

  • that's generally when things have gone awry

  • and when I go to spend time on the factory floor,

  • we're really using the cars,

  • that's where things have gone better.

  • - [Narrator] Musk says being on the factory floor

  • is essential to creating good products,

  • especially because his company builds many parts,

  • like the battery packs and develops much

  • of the software in house.

  • But this makes it difficult for Tesla

  • to ramp up production,

  • compared with traditional automakers

  • that are moving into EVs.

  • - It doesn't have the factories,

  • it doesn't have the distribution networks on the ground.

  • Existing manufacturers like Volkswagen, Toyota, GM,

  • they already have a global manufacturing footprint

  • and they already have global distribution networks.

  • So what they're doing

  • is converting existing plants into electric vehicle plants.

  • - [Narrator] Plus building a factory from scratch

  • can cost billions of dollars.

  • And if the company fails to scale quickly enough

  • before other EVs flood the market,

  • a solution may be to think

  • more like a traditional automaker.

  • - It may be able to do this by building its own factories

  • or it may one day have to rely on contract manufacturers,

  • like Foxconn, which builds for Apple,

  • and is now getting into electric vehicles.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - [Narrator] Working in new markets

  • also means navigating different regulatory environments.

  • And in the US, Musk has been known

  • to collide with regulators.

  • - But the best thing that government can do

  • is just get out of the way.

  • - [Narrator] It's a contrast to his public persona in China.

  • - I'm very confident that the future in China

  • is gonna be great.

  • And that China is headed towards being the biggest economy

  • in the world.

  • - [Narrator] In March, Musk sat down for an interview

  • with China's national television channel

  • to talk about the country's economic plan.

  • - What attracts me most about China's five-year plan

  • is the tremendous commitment

  • to a low-carbon economy

  • and ultimately, to a sustainable energy economy.

  • That I would go anywhere for you. ♪

  • - [Trefor] That says a lot about how he's been willing

  • to change his approach when working in China.

  • - I really wanna thank the government officials

  • that have been really helpful.

  • - [Trefor] Conflict with the authorities

  • really doesn't work here at all.

  • He obviously knows that

  • and has really done everything he can

  • to praise officials, to praise the Chinese system.

  • - [Narrator] Tesla has taken

  • a conciliatory approach when challenged.

  • For instance, at the Shanghai Auto Show in April,

  • a woman climbed on top of a Tesla vehicle

  • to shout allegations about faulty brakes.

  • (woman shouting in foreign language)

  • - [Narrator] The woman's claims

  • couldn't be verified independently

  • but complaints about Tesla spread

  • across the Chinese internet.

  • The company publicly apologized

  • and pledged to set up a customer satisfaction unit.

  • A few months later, Tesla complied with Chinese regulators

  • to address safety issues with the software upgrade

  • in more than 285,000 vehicles.

  • Musk has been less contentious with Chinese officials

  • and that has played a part

  • in Tesla's success there.

  • For example, the factory in Shanghai was built in 10 months.

  • Just compare that with his plant in Berlin.

  • As far back as 2015,

  • Musk has courted German officials.

  • Even the country's head of state, Angela Merkel.

  • But the plant is still facing a six-month delay.

  • Some industry watchers say it was caused

  • by Tesla's own lack of coordination,

  • given the company had benefited from legislation

  • that helped to fast track construction.

  • Musk has said German bureaucracy

  • and activists' environmental concerns

  • over water usage and the plant's impact

  • on local wildlife are why the project is behind.

  • He tweeted that the factory wouldn't use as much water

  • and that trees in the area were originally planted

  • to be turned into cardboard.

  • The delay of the Berlin plant shows

  • how even a superstar CEO

  • can't get around German approval processes.

  • - It's still organized kind of like a startup

  • with a charismatic leader

  • who basically controls everything from the top down,

  • which makes it very hard

  • for a company to deal with local regulatory issues.

  • It needs strong management on the ground,

  • which it doesn't really have here.

  • Maybe it needs a CEO and a real board.

  • That could, in the long run,

  • hinder Tesla on its path to growth.

  • - [Narrator] So if Elon Musk wants

  • to convert Tesla into a truly global player,

  • the billionaire CEO may have to buckle up

  • and prepare for a bumpy ride.

  • (upbeat music)

- [Narrator] This is the Roadster,

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How Elon Musk Is Taking Tesla Global | WSJ

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    joey joey posted on 2021/07/02
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