Tesla's ambitious plan to boost auto production in Shanghai, its most valuable plant globally, hinges on China's approvals to develop 70 hectares (172 acres) of former farmland that is currently overgrown with wildflowers.

Once courted by Beijing to help spur the development of a domestic electric vehicle industry, Tesla may now be a victim of its own success in the world's biggest auto market, challenging plans to use its cost advantage from Chinese production to power exports.

China's state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has been cautious about approving new electric vehicle production plans by all automakers because of concerns about overcapacity and a deepening price war launched by Tesla, according to executives at rival companies and analysts.