Construction of Tesla's new Gigafactory vehicle production plant in Shanghai is expected to be completed by May 2019 with commercial production slated for the end of this year.

The update was provided by Chen Mingbo, a national lawmaker and director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy, speaking to local reporters at the government's annual Two Sessions convention this week.

The Shanghai Gigafactory is the largest foreign-owned manufacturing project in the city's history, according to Chen, who pointed out that it took just six months between initial contract signing, land acquisition and construction start.

A separate report, said Tesla had secured a further US$520m in syndicated loans from Chinese financial institutions this week, bringing total borrowings for the Shanghai Gigafactory to US$2.4bn – most of which is due in 2023. The loans cover investments for vehicle assembly and key component manufacture, including battery packs. The plant is slated to have a production capacity of 250,000 EVs per year by 2022.

Also this week, Tesla announced further price cuts in China, which will no doubt increase pressure on local high-end electric vehicle makers such as Nio and Byton. The company slashed the price of its Model S 75D by CNY11,300 (US$1,685) while the biggest cuts were to the Model X P100D price to CNY341,000.

Tesla does not reveal its sales in China but it said volume had doubled in the first two months of 2019 compared with last year.

It added that shift to "online sales and other ongoing cost-efficiency policies will enable the company to lower all vehicle prices by 6% on average".

Further significant price cuts are expected once production gets under way next year.