Earlier this month, news broke that Tesla sales in China had dipped 64% in April despite a general recovery in the country’s electric vehicle segment. This piece of information was promptly promoted by Tesla bears as an alleged sign that the company’s China operations and its facilities such as Gigafactory Shanghai are poised for ruin. But as it turns out, a deeper dive into April’s data in China shows a much different story.
It is true that Tesla only sold 3,635 Model 3 in April, down over 50% from the 10,160 units that were sold in March. This was reflected by the numbers from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). What was not mentioned in these reports is that April’s sales numbers were vastly affected by two big factors: the impending price adjustment of the locally produced Standard Range Plus Model 3, and the upcoming introduction of the Long Range RWD Model 3.
China web media researcher @DKurac, who closely follows developments in the EV sector of China, has noted that April actually saw close to 15,000 orders for the Model 3 in April, and most of them were for the Long Range version. This information was shared on recent local media reports. This suggests that a significant number of Tesla buyers were actually waiting for the Long Range Model 3 RWD.
The Long Range Model 3 that’s produced at Gigafactory Shanghai, of course, only started deliveries this month. This means that while there were close to 15,000 orders for the vehicle in April, the vehicle’s sales would likely be reflected on May instead. But this is not all.
Apart from the arrival of the Model 3 Long Range RWD to the local market, Tesla China also adjusted the price of the Standard Range Plus Model 3 in early May to allow the vehicle to qualify for government incentives. As noted by Tesla community members in China, rumors of the impending price adjustment were abounding for some time, which meant that a lot of buyers who were planning on purchasing the Model 3 likely waited for the price reduction to take effect in May before buying the all-electric sedan.
Tesla China is yet to confirm if these numbers are accurate, but the company does seem to be heading towards well into the second quarter of 2020 with some momentum on its back. The electric car maker’s operations in China will likely be the difference-maker this Q2 2020, especially since Tesla’s US operations have been affected by the pandemic, while Gigafactory Shanghai has been ramping following a government-mandated shutdown in February.