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Tesla is “absorbing” part of import tariffs to lower Model S and X prices in China

[Credit: Tesla Zhejiang Members Club via vincent13031925/Twitter]

In an effort to make its electric cars more affordable to customers in China, Tesla has announced that it is cutting the prices of the Model S and Model X by 12 to 26% despite the ongoing trade war between the United States and the Asian economic powerhouse. Apart from lowering the prices of its two flagship vehicles, Tesla also opted to adjust the price of the Model 3, which is currently open for orders in the country.

China is the world’s largest electric car market, and the segment is only bound to get more prominent in the coming years due to the country’s aggressive push towards renewable transportation. That said, China has opted to place steep import taxes for vehicles entering the country, resulting in Tesla’s electric cars, which are produced in the United States, being weighed down with a 40% tariff.

When the additional duties took effect last July, Tesla had no choice but to raise the prices of the Model S and X by 150,000 yuan ($22,647) to 250,000 yuan ($37,744), resulting in a fully loaded Model S P100D costing as much as 1.47 million yuan ($221,937) in China — significantly higher than the $147,000 price of the electric car in the United States. 

In a statement to Reuters, Tesla noted that the company would be lowering the prices of its vehicles in the country by “absorbing” part of the 40% import tariffs placed on its electric cars.

“We are absorbing a significant part of the tariff to help make our cars more affordable for customers in China,” Tesla stated.

Tesla further remarked that the Model 3, which is currently open for orders for Chinese reservation holders, is being given a price adjustment. When Tesla initially opened pre-orders for the vehicle, the Long Range Model 3 AWD started at 580,000 RMB (~$84,000) and the Model 3 Performance was listed with a starting price of 690,000 RMB (~$100,000). In the United States, the Long Range Model 3 AWD currently starts at $53,000 while the Model 3 Performance stars at $64,000.

With its recent price adjustments in place, Tesla noted to the publication that the Long Range Model 3 AWD would now start at 540,000 RMB (~$78,000), while the Model 3 Performance would start at 595,000 RMB (~$86,000). These prices, while still notably higher than the vehicle’s cost in the United States, offers a significant reduction from the Model 3’s initial price in China nonetheless.

Such adjustments could bode well for Tesla’s business in the country. Before the US and China’s trade war resulted in a 40% tariff for Tesla’s vehicles, after all, China’s Customs Tariff Commission under China’s cabinet announced that it would reduce car import duties from 20-25% to just 15%. The announcement was met with much enthusiasm by electric car buyers in the country, resulting in a Tesla gallery in Shanghai clearing out its entire Model X 75D inventory in 24 hours.

Tesla’s lowered prices for its vehicles in China is but the tip of the iceberg in the company’s plans for the country’s growing electric car market. Last month, reports emerged from local Chinese media that Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai — which would allow the company to produce vehicles locally, thereby avoiding import taxes — is getting funding from local banks. Tesla has also announced in its third quarter vehicle and production delivery report that it is accelerating the construction of Gigafactory 3, which is expected to produce both batteries as well as the Model 3 and Model Y.

Tesla is “absorbing” part of import tariffs to lower Model S and X prices in China
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