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Elon Musk was recently in Shanghai to break ground on Tesla's first factory site outside of the U.S.. According to reports, he was accompanied by the Mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong, and Tesla China Executives, including the company's VP of sales.

The "groundbreaking" didn’t actually break ground. Rather, it reportedly involved Musk and those accompanying him putting their hands on LED columns which then lit up. Sounds very futuristic.

The groundbreaking ceremony comes just about a week after Chinese state run media had reported that the company's progress in Shanghai appeared to have stalled, with no visible construction taking place.

We were baffled as to why China's most popular state-owned nationalistic tabloid made a point of highlighting Tesla's lack of action: could Beijing have been sending Musk a message that he better get a move on, or China may "sour" in its favorable relations with the electric carmaker?

If that was the case, it worked. Musk took to the stage, reportedly thanked his team in China and stated that he "looks forward to further progress". Musk says that he sees initial production of the Model 3 in Shanghai starting by the end of 2019, a timeline that continues to look increasingly optimistic as weeks go by without tangible progress.

He then went on to qualify that by saying "he believes" production, in volume, will happen in 2020.

Even the Musk cultists at electrek have pointed out that the 2019 timeline looks optimistic.

They concluded in early December:

First of all, the statement is surprising considering the factory status is a flattened piece of land and they expect vehicles to be coming off the assembly line within a year.

“China is becoming the global leader in electric vehicle adoption, and it is a market that is critical to Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, ” Musk said in a company statement.

The company claims that the Chinese Gigafactory “will allow Tesla to localize production of Model 3 and future models sold in China, with plans to eventually produce approximately 3,000 Model 3 vehicles per week in the initial phase and to ramp up to 500,000 vehicles per year when fully operational (subject to local factors including regulatory approval and supply chain constraints).”

The city of Shanghai also issued a statement, saying the plant could produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year after achieving full production.

It was back in October that Tesla announced that it had secured over 200 acres of land for Gigafactory 3 in China.