US electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla Inc has chosen Beijing as the location for its new Chinese vehicle design centre, according to local reports citing a Beijing government document.

The carmaker announced early last year that it planned to establish a “full-function” design studio in the country, either in Shanghai or Beijing, to develop vehicles closely tailored to the Chinese market. Soon after it launched a local recruitment campaign and specified it was looking to appoint a “bi-cultural” director with more than 20 years’ experience to be in charge of the centre.

At the end of last month a report was published online by the Beijing government detailing this year’s major construction projects in the municipality, which included a major project for Tesla a well as a new 300,000 unit/year electric vehicle factory by local smart phone manufacturer Xiaomi Corporation.

China has become Tesla’s most important EV production base globally, with output at the company’s Shanghai plant reported to have exceeded 484,000 vehicles last year – representing more than half of the company’s 936,000 global deliveries. Around 320,000 Tesla’s are estimated to have been sold in China last year, while exports exceeded 160,000 units – mainly to markets in Asia and Europe.

The company came under fire last year for not participating enough in government-industry forums, which may explain its choice of location for the design centre rather than Shanghai.

Last October Tesla said it had completed construction of a data centre in Shanghai to store information generated by its local operations, in line with government regulations which stipulate that data generated locally cannot be stored outside China. The company’s first vehicle development centre to be located outside the USA was also built in Shanghai.

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