San Francisco — At least three ships about 200m long are slated to arrive at ports in China by the end of this month, each carrying precious cargo from Elon Musk. Tesla is loading as many Model 3 sedans as it can onto vessels destined for the People’s Republic ahead of March 1, when a trade-war truce between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is scheduled to expire. Musk fears the two countries could ratchet tariffs back up, which would make the CEO’s electric cars more expensive in China and boost costs of key components the country sends to his US assembly plant. Other car makers are at risk of seeing expenses rise again if the dispute between Trump and Xi flares back up, but Musk is in perhaps the most precarious position in the industry. Global giants such as BMW and Daimler can wiggle around the tariffs to an extent by boosting production at existing China factories, but Tesla’s manufacturing presence there was merely a muddy field as of last month. It won’t be assembling a...

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