ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
In this Sept. 29, 2015, file photo, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., talks about the Model X car at the company's headquarters, in Fremont, Calif. Electric auto brand Tesla Inc. says it has secured land in Shanghai for its first factory outside the United States, pushing ahead despite mounting U.S.-Chinese trade tensions. The company said it signed an agreement on a 210-acre (84-hectare) site. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Tesla picks site for China plant

Electric auto brand Tesla Inc. said it signed an agreement Wednesday to secure land in Shanghai for its first factory outside the United States, pushing ahead with development despite mounting U.S.-Chinese trade tensions.

Tesla, based on Palo Alto, California, announced plans for the Shanghai factory in July after the Chinese government said it would end restrictions on full foreign ownership of electric vehicle makers to speed up industry development.

Those plans have gone ahead despite tariff hikes by Washington and Beijing on billions of dollars of each other's goods in a dispute over Chinese technology policy. U.S. imports targeted by Beijing's penalties include electric cars.

China is the biggest global electric vehicle market and Tesla's second-largest after the United States.

Tesla joins global automakers including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Corp. that are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing electric vehicles in China.

Local production would eliminate risks from tariffs and other import controls. It would help Tesla develop parts suppliers to support after service and make its vehicles more appealing to mainstream Chinese buyers.

Tesla said it signed a "land transfer agreement" on a 210-acre (84-hectare) site in the Lingang district in southeastern Shanghai.

That is "an important milestone for what will be our next advanced, sustainably developed manufacturing site," Tesla's vice president of worldwide sales, Robin Ren, said in a statement.

Shanghai is a center of China's auto industry and home to state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp., the main local manufacturer for GM and VW.

Tesla said earlier that production in Shanghai would begin two to three years after construction of the factory begins and eventually increase to 500,000 vehicles annually.

Tesla has yet to give a price tag but the Shanghai government said it would be the biggest foreign investment there to date. The company said in its second-quarter investor letter that construction is expected to begin within the next few quarters, with significant investment coming next year. Much of the cost will be funded with "local debt" the letter said.

Tesla's $5 billion Nevada battery factory was financed with help from a $1.6 billion investment by battery maker Panasonic Corp.

Analysts expect Tesla to report a loss of about $200 million for the three months ending Sept. 30 following the previous quarter's $742.7 million loss. Its CEO Elon Musk said in a Sept. 30 letter to U.S. securities regulators that the company is "very close to achieving profitability."

Tesla's estimated sales in China of under 15,000 vehicles in 2017 gave it a market share of less than 3 percent.

The company faces competition from Chinese brands including BYD Auto and BAIC Group that already sell tens of thousands of hybrid and pure-electric sedans and SUVs annually.

Until now, foreign automakers that wanted to manufacture in China were required to work through state-owned partners. Foreign brands balked at bringing electric vehicle technology into China to avoid having to share it with potential future competitors.

The first of the new electric models being developed by global automakers to hit the market, Nissan's Sylphy Zero Emission, began rolling off a production line in southern China in August.

Lower-priced electric models from GM, Volkswagen and other global brands are due to hit the market starting this year, well before Tesla is up and running in Shanghai.

 

Ebay sues Amazon for stealing sellers

Ebay filed a lawsuit against Amazon Wednesday, saying the online retail giant used eBay's messaging system to steal its sellers.

In the lawsuit, eBay said Amazon representatives signed up for eBay accounts and messaged sellers to get them to sell their goods on Amazon.com, which eBay said violated its user agreement. According to the complaint, Amazon representatives spelled out their email addresses and asked eBay sellers to talk on the phone in order to evade detection.

Ebay called it an "orchestrated, coordinated, worldwide campaign" to "illegally lure eBay sellers to sell on Amazon."

Seattle-based Amazon declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Both eBay and Amazon rely on independent sellers to boost their revenue, but it's become a big part of Amazon's growth: Last year, for the first time, more than half the items sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers.

Ebay, based in San Jose, California, said it wants Amazon to stop misusing its messaging platform and to pay it an unspecified amount.

 

Senate looks into fires in Kias, Hyundais

A Senate committee is asking executives of automakers Kia and Hyundai to testify next month about fire risk in their vehicles.

The request comes as a safety group demands the recall of 2.9 million Kia and Hyundai cars and SUVs in the U.S. because of consumer complaints that they can catch fire without being involved in an accident.

The Republican chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, John Thune of South Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida, wrote to SeungKyu Yoon, CEO of Kia Motors America, and Kyung Soo Lee, CEO of Hyundai Motors America, inviting them or their designees to a hearing Nov. 14. A committee spokesman said the date of the hearing could change.

The committee made the letters public Wednesday.

A Hyundai spokesman, Michael Stewart, said the company was reviewing the invitation. "Hyundai actively monitors and evaluates potential safety concerns, including non-collision fires, with all of its vehicles and acts swiftly to recall any vehicles with safety-related defects," he said in an emailed statement.

A Kia spokesman said that company also was reviewing the matter.

The Center for Auto Safety said that since 2010, there have been more than 220 complaints to the government about fires and another 200 complaints about melted wires and smoke. The complaints involve the 2011-2014 Kia Sorento and Optima, the 2010-2015 Kia Soul, and the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe.

 

U.K., E.U. agree to Brexit delay

European Union leaders gave themselves several more weeks — perhaps until the end of the year — to clinch a friendly divorce with Britain before their separation, after a Brexit summit Wednesday avoided any friction but also produced no tangible results.

British Prime Minister Theresa May provided none of the substantial new proposals that EU Council chief Donald Tusk had urged her to bring to the table, giving the 27 other leaders little more than a plea for goodwill.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said "we need much time, much more time, and we continue to work in the next weeks" with his British counterpart.

So uncertain was that prospect that a special EU summit on Brexit that had been penciled in for next month to finalize a deal was taken off the table. Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said EU leaders would assess the situation in the coming weeks and "stand ready to meet if necessary."

 

Ford pickups probed for open tailgates

U.S. safety regulators are trying to figure out why the power tailgates on some Ford F-Series pickup trucks can open unexpectedly while the trucks are moving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into thousands of F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks from the 2017 model year.

The agency said in documents posted Wednesday that it has five complaints from owners about the problem. It says unsecured loads could spill onto the road. The documents show Ford sent a service bulletin to dealers in October of 2017 saying that the problem is caused by water getting into electrical wiring.

Investigators will determine how widespread the trouble is and whether a recall is needed.

Ford sold nearly 897,000 F-Series trucks during calendar year 2017, making it the most popular vehicle in America. About one-third, or roughly 299,000, were Super Duty models. Sales figures from last year include some 2018 models, and some 2017s were sold in calendar year 2016. It was unclear how many of Super Duty trucks have power tailgates.

NHTSA has two investigations underway of Ford's F-150 pickup trucks, one from August on complaints of seat belt fires and another from 2016 dealing with the scope of a recall for brake failures.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT