BEIJING -- Tesla is searching for a design director in China as it aims to open a studio in Shanghai or Beijing and design electric cars tailored to Chinese consumer tastes, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
The automaker's human resources managers, as well as several headhunters, have been searching the industry over the past four months, the sources said.
The managers are looking for "bi-cultural" candidates with 20 or more years of experience who are familiar with Chinese tastes and can bridge the gaps between China and the United States, they said.
Some candidates have been interviewed by Tesla's global design chief Franz von Holzhausen, according to the people, though it was not clear how many potential candidates had been approached by the company and recruiters.
All three sources spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity and confidential nature of the matter.
Tesla and von Holzhausen did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
China is the world's biggest auto market, plus the largest for full-electric vehicles with sales volumes expected to reach roughly 1.5 million vehicles there this year, according to consultancy LMC Automotive. It is also Tesla's No. 2 market after the U.S.
The automaker's plans for the design studio are not fully developed, and the sources believe Tesla will likely wait for more clarity on strained U.S.-China relations under a new U.S. president before making a final decision on the move and all its details.
The talent search, which the sources said was mainly focused within China, fits with comments from Tesla boss Elon Musk early last year.
"I think something that would be super cool would be ... to create a China design and engineering center to actually design an original car in China for worldwide consumption. I think this would be very exciting," he said at a media event in Shanghai.