Elon Musk makes surprise visit to China ?

A person aware of his visit said Mr Musk will discuss the rollout of the most autonomous version of its Autopilot software and get permission to transfer data collected in China overseas to train the software’s algorithm.

The hushed visit to Tesla’s second-biggest market by its chief executive was not announced in advance, Mr Musk has previously said that the company’s landmark self-driving technology would be available to customers in China “very soon”.

His visit was also being monitored by Chinese flight tracking app Flight Manager which showed the arrival of a Gulfstream private jet with tail number N272BG, registered to Falcon Landing, a company connected to SpaceX and Tesla, at Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday.

The X (formerly Twitter) owner also uses another jet registered under Falcon Landing with tail number N628TS, the jet he used to make a trip to China last year. He had visited Tesla’s Shanghai factory and met with senior government officials in Beijing.

Tesla launched Full Self-Driving, or FSD, four years ago but it was not made available in China. The company has sold more than 1.7 million cars in China after entering the market a decade ago.

Chinese state media reported that Mr Musk had a meeting with Premier Li Qiang in Beijing, during which Li told him that Tesla’s development in China could be regarded as a successful example of US-China economic and trade cooperation.

Mr Musk is likely to meet with Ren Hongbin, a government official who heads the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the organiser of the Beijing Motor Show currently taking place.

In a video posted on social media by a user linked with Chinese state media, Mr Musk said: “It is good to see electric vehicles making progress in China. All cars will be electric in the future.”

His visit comes just a day after the US auto safety regulator opened an investigation into Tesla’s move to recall more than 2 million vehicles in the US in December as the company sought to install new Autopilot safeguards.

Last week, the driver of a Tesla involved in a crash in Seattle that left a motorcyclist dead said he was operating the vehicle’s Autopilot feature and checking his phone at the time, documents show.

Tesla said in government documents last year that the software change would increase warnings and alerts to drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel.

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