Tesla’s China-made Model 3 will be a cash cow for the automaker as margins set to improve even more

The Made-in-China Model 3. (Credit: Tesla China)

A new report by equity research firm suggests that Tesla’s gross margin for Made-in-China (MIC) Model 3 could increase to 40 percent or even higher, and with higher profit margins, the electric car manufacturer can create the conditions that will further help stimulate sales in the country.

The report published by China-based equity firm Chuancai Securities and shared with Teslarati by Tesla Model S/X owner and Twitter user Ray4Tesla, says that parts domestication will be key to achieve higher profit margins with the MIC Model 3.

“We assume that depending on the progress of Tesla’s parts domestication, the cost of raw materials will fall by 10%-20%. In this case, gross profit margin of Model 3 produced by the Chinese factory will reach more than 35%, which is much higher than the American factory by about 20% gross profit level,” the report reads.  In October 2018, Tesla said that its Model 3 gross margins were more than 20 percent but this was adjusted when it decided to drop the price of the electric sedan to make it accessible to more US buyers.

The report also estimates that after the localization of parts, Tesla’s expenses for raw materials for the China-made Model 3 will drop by 10 to 20 percent. It also takes note of cheaper manufacturing costs and labor costs. Taking into account all of these factors, the researchers concluded that the total production cost may fall by 20-28 percent and thereby further improving profit margin.

This new report from China practically says that the MIC Model 3 has the potential to be its cash cow — read: high volume sales and higher profit margins. This is aside from the fact that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also formally launched the Model Y program in the country during the event for the first public deliveries of the company’s mass-produced electric sedans. According to the report, buyers of the affordable SUV in the country might still enjoy preferential purchase tax, from which its smaller sibling was also exempted from.

Tesla has the potential to claim China, the biggest automotive market in the world, to be its strong foothold. If that happens, it can boost the possibility of sustained profitability for the brand that Musk wants to achieve.

With Musk planning to create an engineering and design center in China, it will not be a surprise if the Gigafactory 3 will play a key role in conquering potential markets in Asia and in pushing for the growth of the brand int its existing markets in the region.

The analysis of the researchers is consistent with earlier rumors that Tesla can further lower the price of the Model 3 once it sources parts, including expensive parts such as its battery, from local suppliers. For now,  Tesla has lowered the price of the Model 3 in China to around $42,919 from the original price tag $50,000 as the new year kicked off, a move that practically undercut other brands such as BMW and Mercedes that offer vehicles in the same segment and the electric car manufacturer surely sparked more interest as showrooms in the country were filled with potential buyers.

At present, Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai already has a run rate of 3,000 units per week and plans to hit that production goal as more workers are added to the frontline.

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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