Home Elon Musk’s Tesla nears self-driving launch in China

Elon Musk’s Tesla nears self-driving launch in China


  • Tesla overcame regulatory hurdles, advancing self-driving in China after Elon Musk's visit.
  • Baidu collaboration enables Tesla's use of lane-level navigation, crucial for autonomy.
  • Deal with Baidu for data collection and addressing data security boosts Tesla's presence in China.

Tesla has cleared key regulatory obstacles that had previously hindered the rollout of its self-driving software in China. This progress sets the stage for a favorable outcome following Elon Musk’s unexpected visit to the U.S. automaker’s second-largest market.

The American automaker will reportedly be able to implement its autonomous driving services using lane-level navigation and mapping supplied by Baidu Inc., according to sources cited by Bloomberg. The Beijing-based internet company is among roughly 20 accredited suppliers possessing the essential module for self-driving functionalities.

The move comes as the Tesla CEO landed in the Chinese capital on Sunday (April 28), where discussions were expected regarding the implementation of Full Self-Driving (FSD) software and the authorization for transferring driving data overseas, as informed by a source familiar with the situation.

The billionaire’s visit, which included a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, took place just over a week after he canceled a scheduled trip to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing “very heavy Tesla obligations.”

Reuters reported that Tesla finalized an agreement with Baidu to use the Chinese tech company’s mapping license for data collection on public roads in China. They characterized this as a pivotal step for the introduction of Full Self-Driving (FSD) in the country.

Tesla also satisfied a major data security and privacy prerequisite in China, as reported by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. This achievement is expected to alleviate some of the concerns surrounding Tesla’s data security.

Since 2021, Chinese regulators have required that Tesla store all data gathered by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai, preventing the company from transferring any data back to the United States.

Tesla and the Chinese automaker market

Tesla has been battling with BYD for supremacy in the world’s largest auto market, despite losing its spot as the largest global electronic vehicle provider in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Tesla sold more than 1500 EVs, on average, across all of its Chinese stores up to October 2023 according to data from China Merchants Bank International. This represents an increase for the same period the previous year, up from 1300.

While Baidu unveiled its own totally self-driving car in August 2016. However, it missed several deadlines, and as a result, it has yet to come to fruition.

Featured image: Midjourney

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Suswati Basu
Tech journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award. With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google. Her…

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.