China second-largest market for Tesla’s Model 3 car
China has become the second-largest market for US carmaker Tesla’s first mass-market car Model 3, which has received over 400,000 orders worldwide in about a month.
The flood of orders reveals Chinese customers’ recognition of high-performance electric vehicles, said Tesla’s global vice-president Robin Ren, without disclosing the figure for Chinese orders.
“The potential is huge, and Tesla is fully committed to developing the Chinese market,” Ren said on Thursday.
China was Tesla’s second-largest market last year as well though the revenue fell 33 per cent to US$319 million (HK$2.47 billion) from the previous year.
The US carmaker launched Model 3 on April 1, with its online pre-order starting the day before. As its first model targeting the mass market, the car is priced at US$35,000. Chinese customers need to pay 8,000 yuan (HK$9,570) as deposit.
The first deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2017, mainly in the North American markets. Chinese buyers will receive the car even later.
Ren said Tesla’s commitment to China is for the long term as it is the world’s largest car market. “Our mission is to promote the use of electric cars in the world, this cannot be achieved without our presence in China.”
But analysts are not too optimistic about China sales of Model 3.
“As the infrastructure for new-energy vehicles (NEVs) is not mature enough, customers will prefer cheaper models. Although Model 3 is claimed to be an affordable one, the price is still too high,” said Zhang Yu, an analyst at consultancy Automotive Foresight.
“It may manage to draw people’s attention, but Model 3 won’t be able to be a game-changer in the Chinese market,” he said.
With the government’s supportive measures and subsidies, China’s NEV sales more than quadrupled last year to 330,000 cars.
China is expected to become the largest electric car market in the world, Tesla’s head of global sales and service Jon McNeill told state-controlled CCTV on Thursday.
He said Tesla will continue to expand its production capacity this year to deliver Model 3 on time and is likely to set up its first plant in China.
The company also launched Model X, a seven-seated sports utility vehicle (SUV) model, at the Beijing auto show on Monday. McNeill said he was excited about the potential of the model as China’s SUV market is huge and growing.