Asia Minute: Tesla Starts 2020 with New Asian Connections

Jan 2, 2020

A new year always brings some changes. This year one of them is taking place in China — where a brand-new factory has just started to turn out electric vehicles made by an American company.

The first Tesla Model 3 electric cars made in China rolled off an assembly line in Shanghai this week. It was a small batch — 15 vehicles that were all bought by factory employees.

Broader distribution plans are in the works. The company wants to scale up its deliveries relatively quickly, with an eye on the Lunar New Year that gets underway January 25th this year.

The base price for the car is about 50,000 dollars before any government subsidies.

These vehicles are not bound for the United States — they’re all for the Chinese market. Because they’re made in the country, they will avoid the tariffs Tesla has been paying up to now by importing models into China. 

There’s another Asia Pacific twist relating to the Tesla’s Model 3 — the batteries currently made by a Japanese company.

This week the Financial Times reported that Panasonic will be able to increase its production of lithium-ion batteries at a shared manufacturing base outside Reno, Nevada known as the “Gigafactory.” Eventually, Tesla wants to make its own batteries. Company executives have said that sales of its Model 3 cars have been limited because Panasonic can’t turn out the battery packs fast enough.

Now that pace will increase.