Tesla starts delivering made-in-China Model Ys, accelerates investment in the mainland
Published: Jan 18, 2021 07:18 PM

Customers inquire and try out a Model Y car displayed at a Tesla store in Shanghai. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Tesla started delivering made-in-China Model Ys on Monday, as the US-based electric carmaker strives to explore the Chinese mainland market with efforts including the launch of new models, after achieving success with Model 3 cars. It's also looking to build a supercharger factory in China, the company disclosed. 

According to information Tesla provided to the Global Times, Tesla began delivering China-made Model Y cars on Monday in three of its showrooms in Shanghai. It is the second electric car that Tesla has produced and launched on the mainland, after it established a manufacturing plant in suburban Shanghai to churn out new-energy vehicles (NEVs), a step that Tesla said marked a "brand new stage" for its development in China. 

Tesla also confirmed that it would soon start delivering made-in-China Model Y cars in other Chinese cities. 

Several Tesla employees told the Global Times earlier that sales of Model Y cars were booming in their stores, while customers said they were attracted by its low price or spacious interior. 

Tesla also revealed that it would accelerate investment in the mainland market. For example, it plans to invest 42 million yuan ($6.5 million) to set up a factory that will research and make superchargers. The factory will start production in the first quarter of 2021, and the goal is to produce 10,000 superchargers annually in the initial stage of operation, according to a statement released by the company.

Wu Shuocheng, an independent car analyst, said that Tesla has helped steer China's NEV market to a more prosperous level compared with the time when it wasn't present in China.

"Tesla has managed to spark a sense of competition among domestic as well as overseas car companies that have business in China, in that they are faster and more active than before in launching electric cars. It has created a catfish effect in China," Wu told the Global Times. 

Tesla prompted domestic consumers to have a better recognition of electric cars, whether they are actually attracted by Tesla's products or merely by Elon Musk's reputation, said Wu. This will push China's NEV market into a beneficial cycle of development.

But Wu said that sales of the Model Y are unlikely to surpass those of the Model 3s, although the car may attract a lot of attention at the initial stage, because it is still at a price level much higher than the Model 3s. 

"But it surely will help Tesla gain share in China's NEV market and grab some customers from other sport utility vehicle makers," Wu said. 

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