Tesla’s new Model 3 pricing in China is driving local competitors into a corner

(Credit: Tesla China)

Tesla’s recent price adjustments to the Model 3 in China seem to be putting pressure on the electric car maker’s domestic rivals. With the Made-in-China Model 3 Standard Range Plus now being cheaper than competitors from local brands, Tesla has raised the stakes in what seems to be a rush to capture the country’s re-emerging EV market. 

China has long been the leader in electric car sales across the globe, but the country’s momentum was disrupted last year when the government slashed its EV subsidies. These headwinds were highlighted further when the pandemic hit this year, which put even more pressure on electric car makers. So notable was the cut in China’s EV sector that Europe has overtaken the country as the largest electric vehicle market this 2020. 

That being said, China’s electric car segment seems poised for a comeback. As noted in a report from The Wall Street Journal, a lower base and a gradually recovering Chinese economy have resulted in rising electric car sales since July. Numerous companies have taken advantage of this renewed momentum, the most notable of which is American electric car maker Tesla, which operates a vehicle production plant in Shanghai. 

The electric car maker has been in an aggressive push to lower its vehicle production costs in its Gigafactory Shanghai facility. Thanks to an increasingly localized supply chain, Tesla has been able to steadily lower the price of its Model 3 Standard Range Plus sedan, the company’s entry-level vehicle. The most notable of these price adjustments was arguably rolled out recently, which cut 8% of the vehicle’s cost. 

Tesla was able to accomplish this thanks in part to the company’s strategy of using lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries for the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which are cobalt-free and more affordable. With these price reductions, Tesla’s entry-level EV actually ended up being more affordable than some of its domestic rivals, particularly Xpeng Motors’ P7 sedan, which has been positioned as a Model 3 competitor. 

Unfortunately for local carmakers, Tesla’s recent price adjustment is something that is not easily replicated. Xpeng, which is poised to be hit hard with the Model 3’s new pricing, announced that it would not be cutting the P7’s prices. According to the carmaker, cutting prices at this point would require earlier buyers to be compensated, which could weigh on the company. And it’s not just Xpeng, either. Other domestic carmakers like NIO and BYD are poised to feel the effects of Tesla’s aggressive pricing as well.

It should be noted that Tesla is already putting this much pressure on local EV makers in China with a premium, midsized vehicle. During Battery Day, the company confirmed that a $25,000 Tesla is on the way, and Musk later noted that the vehicle will be produced in China. Such an electric car, thanks to its even lower price point, could very well disrupt the market at a level that not even the Model 3 or Model Y could reach.

Tesla’s new Model 3 pricing in China is driving local competitors into a corner
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