Tesla city car comes into focus as EV maker eyes Chinese design center

Tesla has begun the hiring process to help it design "Chinese-style" vehicles.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Tesla city car sketch

Maybe a future China-only model will look something like this.


Tesla has its eyes fixed on China at the moment. The world's largest market for electric cars is now home to the second Tesla manufacturing facility in the world, but the automaker is teeing up a design center, and we got a look at what a "Chinese-style" Tesla car could be.

An announcement posted to the company's official WeChat account in China yesterday said plans for a Chinese design and research center are underway. It called for applications to help design "Chinese-style" vehicles and fill other staff positions. Attached to the announcement was a single photo showing a design sketch of what looks like a small city car.

The car very clearly resembles the Model 3 and Model Y, but with a more podlike look with some aggressive sculpting at the rear. The roofline almost appears to emulate the Model 3 until the design takes a wider shape at the rear and rear quarter panel. Obviously, this is a sketch and may not indicate a production car in the slightest. Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Yet, that's the direction Tesla is moving. The WeChat announcement mentions CEO Elon Musk's goals, saying, "In order to achieve a shift of 'Made in China' to 'Designed in China,' [Musk] has proposed a very cool thing -- set up a design and research center in China."

Previously, at the kickoff for mass Model 3 deliveries in China, Musk also commented on plans to set up a design and research center locally. He mentioned the cars would be designed in China and sold around the world.

The city car sketch could be an indicator as to what Tesla is thinking about as a China-specific model, or perhaps a model to be sold in multiple markets. Aside from the current Tesla lineup, the company plans to launch the Model Y crossover later this year, a new Roadster is still in the pipeline and the Cybertruck is due in two years. There's also the Tesla Semi yet to come.

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