Investors were treated today to two significant developments affecting Tesla's (TSLA -6.42%) expansion plans in China.
The first came when China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that the company had been approved to sell longer-range versions of its popular Model 3 in China. The second was Tesla's first-ever posting seeking solar and energy storage project managers in China.
Put together, these announcements signal a major expansion in Tesla's Chinese operations.
Until now, Tesla has only been approved to manufacture and sell in China its standard-range Model 3, which has a range of 400 kilometers (about 250 miles). In a statement, the Ministry lists the approved range of the long-range version as "more than 600 kilometers," or about 375 miles.
Tesla has made rapid progress on its Chinese auto manufacturing capabilities. It broke ground on its $2 billion Shanghai Gigafactory in January 2019, and began delivering China-made Model 3s to non-employees in January 2020. The company expects the factory to be operating at scale later this year, with an estimated production volume of 150,000 vehicles per year.
Solar and energy storage
Tesla is primarily known as an auto manufacturer, but has also made significant investments in solar and energy storage technology. However, up until now, its Chinese efforts seemed focused on the country's massive vehicle market.
That seems set to change with two postings made by Tesla HR to its official page on Chinese messaging app WeChat, seeking project managers for solar and energy storage projects. In a February tweet about Tesla's new "Solarglass" roof, CEO Elon Musk teased that "China timing will be announced soon." This may be the first step toward that launch.