Only a year after breaking ground in Shanghai, Tesla’s factory in China has now started rolling out cars for local customers.
But Tesla’s Chinese workers get first dibs on the initial production run.
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Fifteen Tesla employees received the first China-made Model 3s during a ceremony held at the Shanghai plant. Wang Hao, who is the general manager for Tesla China, further announced during the event that even more workers will be receiving the cars over the next few days. Customers will get their Model 3s starting next month.
The plant was built in only 10 months and October saw them starting trial production. This first batch of cars was sent to the dozens of Tesla experience centers across China last month. This allowed potential customers to test drive electric cars. On October 25, 2019, Tesla started taking orders for the made-in-China Model 3s.
“This is a happy gathering,” the company announced on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and even live-streamed the Shanghai event. “The delivery of China-made Model 3s to our beloved workers is to reward everyone’s hard work this year.”
And in the spirit of the festive event, one Tesla employee who just got his Model 3 even proposed to his girlfriend during the ceremony. He opened the hood to reveal flowers underneath and even got down on his knee to propose. He explained that he was giving the car to his girlfriend as a “gift” and then asked her to marry him. (To his relief, she appeared to say yes.)
Elon Musk may be a great innovator who always seeks to push the technology envelope, he’s still a businessman who wants to earn a profit. And that’s why Tesla put up the Shanghai plant to better target Chinese customers and roll out more cars. One advantage is that production costs would go down.
The Shanghai-built Model 3 starts off at 355,800 yuan ($51,000) which is 2% cheaper than the imported version. Those who buy the locally made model can also avail of government subsidies amounting to nearly 25,000 yuan ($3,578). In addition, they will also be exempted from a car purchase tax.
Tesla is no newcomer to the Chinese market. The company has actually been delivering cars to Chinese customers since 2014. But Musk calls the China factory a “template for future growth.” The company has indicated that eventually, they want to make 500,000 cars a year from the plant.
The Shanghai factory is Tesla’s first production facility outside the United States. Musk also plans to bring the Tesla to Europe by announcing plans to put up another foreign production plant in Berlin.
Tesla has positioned itself to take advantage of the Chinese car market, the largest in the world, even as the country struggles with broader economic issues and slowing car sales.