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Tesla chief executive Elon Musk dances onstage during the delivery event for the company’s China-made Model 3 cars in Shanghai on January 7. Photo: Reuters

Tesla new car registrations rise again in China despite slowdown

  • California-based Tesla delivered 92,550 vehicles globally in the fourth quarter, bringing its 2019 total to 367,500

Tesla’s new car registrations climbed again in China last month to the highest since March, despite a slowdown in the wider car market.

Registrations of Tesla electric vehicles (EVs) rose to 6,643 in December, according to state-backed China Automotive Information Net, which gathers industry data based on insurance purchases. Thirty of those were for the first of its locally made cars.

Tesla started handing over cars to employees at its Shanghai plant – the company’s first outside the United States – at the very end of the month.

The December figure took total Tesla registrations in the world’s biggest EV market to 42,715 for the year, compared with 16,360 in 2018.

Elon Musk wants to design a ‘Chinese-style’ Tesla

The increase came during a slowdown in China’s overall car sales, which dropped for a second straight year, according to the China Passenger Car Association. EV sales were hurt last year as the government trimmed subsidies on purchases.

“Tesla’s vehicle sales are less vulnerable to China’s NEV (new energy vehicle) subsidy cut, making them stand out in terms of number of deliveries amid a broader cooling demand,” said Kevin Kim, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong.

Tesla said in October it would stop selling its most basic imported Model 3 in China, which may have prompted buyers who wanted a US-made version to place orders, boosting registrations later in the year.

The California-based company does not provide monthly data by region, but globally it delivered 92,550 vehicles in the fourth quarter, bringing its 2019 total to 367,500.

Tesla stock hits US$500 amid new China factory, strong sales

After the first batch of locally-made Model 3 cars were handed over to buyers who worked at the company, Tesla started delivering to the public on January 7 at a ceremony attended by company chief executive Elon Musk, who expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government for helping to get the plant on the outskirts of Shanghai up and running in just a year.

Tesla cut the starting price of its China-built vehicles by 9 per cent from January 3, bringing it down to 299,050 yuan (US$43,500) after government subsidies.

The company’s Shanghai factory is assembling more than 1,000 cars a week and plans to double that rate over the year, according to manufacturing director Song Gang. The US carmaker may cut prices further in the second half of this year, as it sources more components locally, people familiar with the matter have said.

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Tesla bucks market slowdown with rise in registrations