On its Q4 FY 2020 Update Letter, Tesla listed Gigafactory Shanghai’s annual vehicle production capacity at 450,000 Model 3 and Model Y, up from 250,000 in Q3 2020. This number is undoubtedly impressive, but if one were to look at recent reports and developments at the Shanghai-based site, it would seem that Tesla’s numbers for the facility in 2021 are fairly conservative.
Data from the China Passenger Vehicle Association shows that 137,459 China-made Model 3 were sold locally last year, allowing it to be one of the country’s most popular electric cars. These numbers helped Tesla reach its goal of delivering half a million vehicles in 2020, an ambitious target considering the effects of the pandemic on the global auto segment.
It should be noted that 2020 only marked the first year of Model 3 production in Gigafactory Shanghai. Within the year, which included government-mandated shutdowns due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, Tesla was able to ramp the production of the Model 3, while building out and starting the operations in the Model Y plant in the factory’s Phase 2 area. By November, industry insiders told local news agency 36 Krypton that Tesla China would be looking to build 550,000 cars in 2021, comprised of 300,000 Model 3 and 250,000 Model Y.
These figures, at least based on the Q4 FY 2020 report, are notably higher than Tesla’s own estimates. However, it should be noted that Tesla’s Model Y plant in Gigafactory Shanghai will likely ramp faster than its Model 3 counterpart, partly due to the Model Y employing innovations such as the Giga Press, which makes vehicle production simpler and more cost-effective. Fewer interruptions due to the pandemic are also likely this year, considering China’s stringent anti-COVID policies.
When reports of Giga Shanghai’s reported 550,000-vehicle production goal was reported, industry insiders cited by local news reports noted that Tesla China has already issued ordering requirements to core component suppliers. This suggests that since the latter part of 2020, Tesla has already been making preparations for its most notable vehicle production ramp to date in Gigafactory Shanghai. This was highlighted in a study from China Industrial Securities, which stated that Giga Shanghai has reached a production capacity of 8,000 vehicles per week.
During the Q4 FY 2020 earnings call, Eon Musk noted that Tesla is on track to see a growth rate of about 50% every year. Considering the pieces that are in place in the Fremont Factory and Gigafactory Shanghai, as well as the expected deployment of Giga Berlin and Gigafactory Texas later this year, Tesla’s 50% estimate may very well be conservative.
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