Elon Musk makes surprise trip to Beijing, scores approval for Tesla’s self-driving technology

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made an unexpected trip to Beijing where his company passed China’s data security requirements and the billionaire lobbied for approval of his company’s self-driving service.

“Local Chinese authorities have removed restrictions on Tesla cars after the company’s China-made vehicles passed the country’s data security requirements, the automaker said Sunday,” NBC News reported. “The breakthrough came as Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrived in Beijing for an unexpected meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, amid the first major auto show in the city in four years.”

“Although Tesla’s electric cars are some of the most popular vehicles in China, they have reportedly been banned from some government-related properties due to concerns about what data the U.S.-based automaker can collect,” the media outlet noted.

Similar concerns are occurring in the United States as leaders voice growing alarm about how much data the communist Chinese are collecting from cars that they will either eventually manufacture or already provide parts or software for. It is viewed as a national security issue.

(Video Credit: Bloomberg Television)

Tesla issued a news release that did not mention specifically which local authorities had removed restrictions on the cars.

Along with Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y, BYD’s Lotus, Nezha, Li Auto, and Nio also passed the Chinese data security requirements, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers and the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China.

“The new data security requirements for ‘connected vehicles’ were released in November and cover cars released in 2022 and 2023 which automakers voluntarily submit for inspection, the center said,” NBC News added.

“The rules test for whether the cars anonymize facial recognition data outside the vehicle, default to not collecting cockpit data, process that data inside the car, and prominently notify users of personal information processing. Tesla was included in the first batch of automakers that met the data compliance requirements,” the media outlet continued.

The surprise visit on Sunday could presage the approval of the “Full Self-Driving” software from Tesla.

“Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the company’s plan to launch its ‘Full Self-Driving,’ or FSD, software feature in the country, people familiar with the matter said Monday,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The U.S. electric-vehicle maker will deploy its autonomous driving services based on mapping and navigation functions provided by Chinese technology giant Baidu,” the media outlet pointed out.

Despite positive signs concerning FSD, JL Warren Capital CEO and Head of Research Junheng Li remarked on X that the rollout of a “supervised” version of FSD in China is “extremely unlikely.”

“She pointed to challenges for Tesla to support local operation of the software as a foreign entity in China. Li said there’s ‘no strategic value’ for Beijing to support FSD’s domestic rollout when there are many high-quality local alternatives, such as Xpeng’s driver-assist software,” NBC News reported.

The less-than-24-hour visit by Musk was profitable for Tesla. The company’s stock was up 10% in morning trading on Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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