Musk moves in

Musk moves in
Jan 10, 2020 (WiC 478)

Stripping off his jacket, he began what was soon being described as a ‘dad dance’ on Twitter. Video of Elon Musk’s none-too-funky moves were soon viewed more than four million times online. But the Tesla boss had much to dance about in Shanghai, were he was joined by the local mayor in opening Tesla’s brand new factory. The $2 billion facility is delivering cars just 357 days since construction began, a record for a foreign carmaker in China, the South China Morning Post said.

To mark the moment, the first 10 customers took delivery of their China-made Model 3 sedans directly from Musk on Tuesday. The billionaire CEO also announced that Tesla’s Model Y electric SUV would be built at the new Shanghai factory as well.

The new plant can make as many as 500,000 cars a year and, in a first for a foreign auto firm, it is wholly-owned by Tesla. So what’s the main advantage? An imported Model 3 would have cost its owner in excess of Rmb439,000 ($63,272), according to China Daily. Minus the tariffs (and a 9% price discount from Tesla and a Rmb25,000 government subsidy) the Shanghai-made version will cost considerably less at Rmb299,050.

Only 30% of the sedans’s components are produced locally, but Song Gang, the plant’s manufacturing director, told China Daily that by the end of this year all of the components will be domestically made too.

The stock market is pleased. On Monday Tesla’s market value reached $81.39 billion, the highest ever for an American carmaker.

When the ship comes in

When the ship comes in
Dec 6, 2019 (WiC 477)

In 1711 the Scott family built their first shipyard in Greenock. For the next couple of centuries the Clyde area would be the epicentre of the global shipbuilding industry. The Scotsman newspaper has estimated that some 25,000 naval, merchant and passenger ships were built in these Glaswegian docks during the industry’s heyday, with around one in five ships made on the Clyde in the early twentieth century.

China wants to emulate this level of dominance, and as part of that strategy the government formally created a shipping behemoth late last month. On November 26 the newly merged China Shipping Group (CSG) had its unveiling ceremony in Beijing. The world’s largest shipbuilder was created from the amalgamation of two state-owned giants: CSIC (known locally as the ‘North Ship’) and CSSC (known as the ‘South Ship’). The new entity has been described as the “Divine Ship” by Chinese media to reflect its monumental scale.

Indeed, journalists have been listing the big numbers: CSG has total assets of Rmb790 billion ($112 billion), around 310,000 employees and ownership of 147 research institutes. Its chairman Lei Fanpei said the “integration of the two groups has laid the foundation for us to build a world-class enterprise with international competitiveness”. Lei added that this year the combined entity would sell Rmb78 billion of non-military ships, of which Rmb60 billion would be sold abroad – with customers in 150 countries. It will all sound very familiar to any Glaswegian that still remembers the manufacturing glories of the Clyde’s past.

Concrete solution

Concrete solution
Nov 29, 2019 (WiC 476)

Three-dimensional printing is a technology typically associated more with making bespoke dentures or tiny replacement parts for aircraft. However, in China buildings are now being 3D printed. The Chinese are not alone in doing this – experimental structures have also been printed in Denmark and Dubai – but this month a Chinese construction firm marked a first, according to A two-storey office building was printed on site, adjacent to an existing structure, in an attempt to show the process could be commercialised. The new concrete office structure in Guangdong’s Heyuan City was printed in less than 60 hours, with a printer made domestically by China Construction Machinery and which incorporated 13 patents. The chief engineer on the project said a conventional approach would have required 60 days, and also required double the labour and five times the outlay on construction materials. He estimated the 3D printer saved as much as 50% of costs versus standard techniques and said it was particularly useful for buildings that employed curved architectural designs.

Meanwhile design website Dezeen also reported that a 3D printer was also used to build the facade of a new fish and chip shop in Chengdu. The facade captures the look and feel of the original in the British city of York. The Sichuan outpost of Scotts is located in Swire’s popular Taikoo Li development in the city (see WiC465 for our first report on the Yorkshire chippy’s decision to open a China-based eatery).