Tesla China pushes back MIC Model 3 deliveries amid coronavirus outbreak

Tesla Made-in-China Model 3 (Source: Tesla China | Twitter)

As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues in China, Tesla has opted to postpone MIC Model 3 deliveries scheduled for February, at least until the situation in the country improves. The update was related by Tesla China VP for External Affairs Grace Tao Lin, who noted on Weibo that MIC Model 3 deliveries will likely be pushed back, perhaps as far back as the third quarter of 2020.

Giga Shanghai currently has a run rate of 3,000 Model 3s per week and is poised to hit an annual production rate of 150,000 vehicles. The company has also launched the Model Y program in the country. With these in mind, the recently-announced delays will likely set back the ramp of the locally-made Model 3, while potentially pushing back the Model Y program in the country.

Interestingly enough, Tesla has noted that it does not expect a big financial hit in China due to the coronavirus outbreak. This is because the MIC Model 3 only represents a small fraction of the company’s quarterly profits, according to Tesla’s finance chief Zach Kirkhorn during the company’s Q4 2019 earnings call.

Tesla China delivery delays due to coronavirus outbreak (Source: Grace Tao Lin | Weibo)

Analysts currently expect markets to underperform because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. However, Tesla seems to be defying the odds so far. This week, the Tesla stock continued to soar, with the Silicon Valley-based electric carmaker surpassing the current valuation of Volkswagen and BMW combined on Monday. Tesla’s price per share hit past $900 and settled at $887.06 when the market closed on Tuesday

The real impact of production delays and supply chain issues might be felt soon though if the closure of factories across China will be stretched to mid-March. Automotive research firm IHS Markit estimates that carmakers may lose about 1.7 million units during the first quarter of 2020. This corresponds to a 32.3% decline from the firm’s initial estimates.

“In this scenario, we might expect the potential of a China-wide supply chain disruption caused by parts shortages from Hubei, a major component hub — and adjacent province closures for the majority of the month of February as a result,” IHS Markit wrote in a press release.

The Shanghai government has ordered the shutdown of companies in the city, including Giga Shanghai, amid the coronavirus outbreak. Government and private companies are not allowed to resume operations before Feb. 9. Prior to the suspension of work, the government has also extended the Lunar New Year holidays to help control the spread of the 2019-nCOV that started in Wuhan, a city about 9 hours away by car from Shanghai.

Tesla is not the sole automaker that is being affected by the ongoing outbreak. Hyundai, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Continental have also shut down their respective factories in China due to the virus.

Based on the latest updates, there are more than 24,000 people infected by the coronavirus that causes fever, serious respiratory illness, impaired liver function, and kidney failure. As of Wednesday local time, there have been 490 deaths reported in connection to the virus. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak, which has infected people in 25 countries, a public health emergency. The United States and several countries have also implemented travel bans to and from China.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Tesla China has offered local customers free Supercharging for an indefinite time to make traveling easier for drivers who reside in areas affected by the outbreak.

Amid the public health scare, Tesla has continued to provide customer support through Douyin, China’s version of TikTok. Tesla sales staff from certain experience centers live-streamed tours of the Made-in-China Model 3 and entertained questions from potential buyers. The company has also posted schedules of the live streams that interested consumers can join via Douyin.

Meanwhile, Tesla owners in China united to raise 123,000 yuan or about $17,500 to purchase N95 masks, surgical masks, and sets of protective clothing that they plan to donate to different hospitals treating patients infected by the coronavirus. Tesla has also donated 5 million yuan or more than $700,000 to assist the government and other institutions involved in disease control.

The recent news from China appears to have weighed down on Tesla stock. As of writing, TSLA stock is trading

Randell Suba: A curious soul who keeps wondering how Elon Musk, Tesla, electric cars, and clean energy technologies will shape the future, or do we really need to escape to Mars.
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