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Elon Musk's Tesla ready for 'groundbreaking' Shanghai gigafactory

The facility is set to be completed this summer, the Tesla CEO tweeted ahead of the event.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk attended the ground breaking ceremony for the automaker's first non-US gigafactory in Shanghai, China.

Tesla's first non-US gigafactory is finally taking shape.

The automaker broke ground for its Shanghai gigafactory in a ceremony held Jan. 7 at 3 p.m. local time, it announced in a statement today, adding that the plant will enable the localisation of Model 3 production and future models sold in China.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted his excitement for the event this morning.

In later updates, he added that he hopes initial construction will be completed this summer, so production for the Model 3 can begin by the end of the year.

Musk also revealed that the Shanghai gigafactory will build "affordable versions" of the Model 3 and Model Y for the greater China region. More expensive versions and other car models will continue to be made in the US.

Tesla has plans to produce approximately 3,000 Model 3 vehicles every week in the initial phase and ramp up to 500,000 vehicles every year when fully operational, though it's subject to local factors such as regulatory approval and supply chain constraints, according to a company statement.

Musk was present at the event, which comes as the US-China trade talks loom and amid reports that Tesla's sales aren't doing well in the country. The event was also graced by Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, local government officials, representatives from the National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, as well as members of the Tesla team.

"China is ... a market that is critical to Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy," said Musk. 

"Over the last six years, we have opened 60 Tesla locations, nearly 1,500 Superchargers, and more than 1,850 destination chargers in the country. This week, we've started taking online orders for Model 3 in China, so that customers can configure their vehicle to take delivery in the weeks ahead, and Gigafactory 3 is another example of Tesla's commitment to the China market."

First published at Jan. 6, 11 p.m. PT.
Update at Jan. 7, 1:23 a.m. PT: Adds information throughout.