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Tesla Model 3 boldly defies sales slump in world's largest electric car market

Tesla's Made-in-China Model 3. (Credit: JayInShanghai/Twitter)

Tesla is reportedly coming off of one of its most successful months in November 2019 as Chinese registrations of the company’s electric vehicles skyrocketed 14x compared to their numbers in October. The news of the dramatic spike in new-car registrations gives Tesla plenty of momentum as the first deliveries of its Gigafactory 3-produced Model 3 sedan are set to begin soon.

In November, Tesla registered a total of 5,597 cars in China, the highest monthly registrations it recorded since June. It should be noted that the company reportedly sold less than 400 cars in the country in November 2018, according to China Automotive Information Net. New vehicle registrations may not necessarily reflect Tesla’s exact sales numbers, but they do provide a valuable metric in tracking the company’s performance in the local electric car market.

Auto analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence Steve Man believed tariffs on U.S. manufactured vehicles set to take effect in December may have helped spike sales for Tesla. These tariffs are no longer set to take effect because the United States and China agreed to the initial phases of a trade agreement in mid-December.

(Credit: Bloomberg Intelligence)

Despite a slowing Chinese electric car market, Tesla continues to thrive. The next step for the company and its CEO Elon Musk is to begin deliveries of Model 3 vehicles that have been manufactured at its Shanghai production plant. The Made-in-China Model 3 will cost around $50,000, though government subsidies could knock about $3,500 off the price of the vehicle, according to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Demand for the Model 3 in China is recognizably high according to Musk. However, he sees the vehicle’s price will need to come down slightly for the company to be successful there. “It’s important to appreciate, the demand for Model 3 is insanely high. The inhibitor is affordability. It’s just that people literally don’t have the money to buy the car. It’s got nothing to do with desire. They just don’t have enough money in the bank account. If the car can – if we made it more affordable, the demand is extraordinary,” Musk said back in May 2019.

Tesla’s potential in China is significant because of the overwhelming presence of battery-powered cars in the country. China is responsible for around 45% of the world’s electric car market, as per data from the International Energy Agency. This accounts for about 2.3 million battery-powered cars in the country in 2018. China’s growth in the electric car market is evident as well. In comparison, the second-largest global fleet of electric cars in the world last year was Europe, which accounted for 24% of the worldwide EV market. The United States follows with 22%.

Musk has stated he expects Gigafactory 3 to produce around 3,000 vehicles a week and recognizes the advantages his company holds in China. “If you’re in the automotive industry you understand how significant this is, but maybe it’s not as obvious to everyone. Tesla has the first wholly-owned manufacturing facility in China of any automotive company. So, this is profound. And we’re very appreciative of the Chinese government allowing us to do this,” Musk said.

Tesla Model 3 boldly defies sales slump in world's largest electric car market
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