Zeng Yuqun, Elon Musk’s Friend in China

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Tesla, which sells more electric vehicles in China than any other company, makes one car there: the Model 3. And unlike in other countries, more and more of the cars in China are running on CATL’s lithium-ion phosphate batteries, which are cheap enough to let Tesla trim 10% off the price, a big step toward solidifying a hold on the mass market.

Zeng, who has a doctorate in physics, has known Tesla Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Elon Musk for some time; in an interview with Bloomberg News this year, Zeng said they text about technology, Covid-19, and Musk’s main interest: cheaper batteries and cars. “He’s a fun guy,” Zeng said. Batteries are Zeng’s obsession, too. His glass and steel headquarters in southeastern China is even built to resemble one, and batteries have made him an estimated $21 billion fortune. They could make him more money yet. Both companies are opening plants in Germany, though neither side is saying that they’re working together. —John Liu and Chunying Zhang

Zeng Yuqun, Elon Musk’s Friend in China

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