For the past few weeks, Tesla China has adopted a pretty conservative stance with its estimates about the first deliveries of the Made-in-China Model 3. While numerous car carriers have been spotted loading up with MIC Model 3s in Gigafactory 3’s holding lots, the electric car maker has maintained that it was simply aiming to begin deliveries of the all-electric sedan before the Spring Festival, which will be held in Q1 2020.
As it turned out, Tesla China has been vastly under-promising all along. Citing a company representative, a recent Reuters report stated that Tesla China will begin delivering the MIC Model 3 to local customers on Monday, December 30, 2019. That’s far earlier than the company’s own estimates, and immensely earlier than what Tesla’s skeptics have suggested.
Monday’s upcoming delivery event will likely symbolic in a way, with only 15 Model 3 being handed over to local customers that are comprised of Tesla China employees. This mirrors Tesla’s first Model 3 deliveries in the United States, which involved a ceremony in the Fremont factory.
The first delivery date of the Made-in-China Model 3 marks the 357th day since Tesla and its construction partner started working on the Gigafactory 3 complex, which was then just a plot of land. The speed upon which Gigafactory 3’s Phase 1 zone was completed marks a new record for global automakers currently operating in China.
The Made-in-China Model 3 is Tesla’s key to the local Chinese auto industry, which also corresponds to the world’s largest electric car market. China’s EV segment dwarfs that of the United States, but it is also populated by local electric car makers that produce affordable vehicles. A lot of these vehicles are not as tech-focused as the Model 3, but they are offered at prices that are far lower than those of Tesla’s imported vehicles.
With Gigafactory 3 producing Model 3 in China, Tesla would be able to evade the steep import tariffs that have long weighed down the Model S and Model X in the country. The Chinese government has also been supportive of Tesla’s expansion, granting the MIC Model 3 with government incentives that are usually given only to local automakers. These would likely make the Model 3 more attractive to local consumers, even if the vehicle starts at a rather premium price of 355,800 yuan ($50,000) before subsidies.
With Model 3 deliveries from Gigafactory 3 starting earlier than expected, Tesla’s first quarter of 2020 will likely be filled with some surprisingly impressive numbers from China.