US electric-vehicle maker Tesla has announced the completion of its new research and development centre at the Gigafactory in Shanghai, the company’s first R&D centre outside the USA.Both new centres were completed at the end of October and are expected to be operational ‘in the near future’, according to the company.
Gigafactory Shanghai is Tesla’s largest factory by production volume, manufacturing Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles.
The R&D centre employs teams of engineers in software, hardware, electronics, materials and power engineering, who will work in 28 different labs, including a low-voltage electronics lab, a firmware lab and a materials lab. They will be tasked with developing products and services that are strongly tailored to the needs of Chinese consumers.
In the shorter term, the new engineering research team is expected to focus on a US$25,000 electric car, which the company hopes to launch in the next few years. China will be the primary market for the new entry-level car – expected to be a hatchback slightly smaller than the Model 3 – and hence will be designed in China to suit the tastes of local customers.However, there were also hints in the company’s video press release that the team will be working on the so-called Tesla Bot humanoid robot.
‘As we started to build our first manufacturing facility in China, here in Shanghai, we grew our engineering team as well to be a highly performant and self-sufficient team that was soon recommending, designing and contributing improvement to the products,’ said David Lau, Tesla’s head of software.