Tesla hikes prices for Model 3, other cars in China amid weaker yuan

FILE PHOTO: The Tesla logo is pictured on a car during the electric car E-Rallye Baltica 2019 in Bauska, Latvia, July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc TSLA.O had raised prices for some vehicles in China as the yuan trades at its weakest levels in more than a decade.

The starting price for the Model X sport utility vehicle (SUV) is now 809,900 yuan ($114,186), versus 790,900 yuan previously, according to Tesla’s China website on Friday.

Its long-range dual-motor variants of mass-market Model 3 cars are now 439,900 yuan, up from 429,900 yuan previously.

The U.S.-China trade frictions and a tit-for-tat tariff war between the countries has prompted Tesla, which currently imports all the cars it sells in China, to adjust its prices multiple times over the past year.

The latest hike comes as China allowed the yuan to weaken against the U.S. dollar earlier this month, raising the cost of imports and prompting Washington to label China a currency manipulator. Beijing has strongly opposed the label.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this week that Tesla would hike prices due to the currency uncertainty and could do so again in December should Chinese tariffs on U.S.-made cars take effect.

Tesla is currently building its first overseas factory in Shanghai, which is expected to help the firm minimize the impact of the trade war. It is due to start production by the end of the year and Tesla has said it should be able to build 3,000 Model 3 vehicles a week in its initial phases.

While Tesla does not disclose sales by country, consultancy LMC Automotive estimates it sold 23,678 vehicles in China in the first seven months this year, including 17,451 Model 3 cars.

Reporting by Yilei Sun in SHANGHAI and Se Young Lee in BEIJING; Additional Reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Editing by Stephen Coates and Himani Sarkar