January 4, 2019 / 8:28 AM / 7 months ago

Tesla to start delivering Model 3 to China buyers in March

FILE PHOTO: Rows of new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles are seen in Richmond, California. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - Tesla Inc said on Friday it plans to start delivering Model 3 cars to customers in China in March, cementing a time frame that the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) maker’s chief executive, Elon Musk, tweeted about late last year.

The California-based firm, which aims to accelerate Chinese sales that have been hit hard by the impact of trade tension between Washington and Beijing, said in a statement the starting price for a Model 3 in China would be 499,000 yuan ($72,000).

Tesla cut prices for its Model 3 last month, the third time in the last two months for the firm to adjust prices in China.

In November, Tesla cut the prices of its Model X and Model S in China by 12 to 26 percent.

GIGAFACTORY

Tesla has opened a tender process to build a $2 billion plant in Shanghai - dubbed a Gigafactory - and at least one contractor has started buying materials, Reuters reported earlier last month.

The automaker has said it aims to initially produce about 3,000 Model 3 vehicles per week at the plant and localize its manufacturing and supply chain.

The factory, Tesla’s first in China, marks a major bet by the EV maker as it looks to bolster its presence in the world’s biggest auto market where it faces rising competition from a swathe of domestic rivals, while its earnings have been hit by increased tariffs on U.S. imports.

Reporting by Yilei Sun in BEIJING and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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