Tesla starts selling China-made Model 3 with autopilot function

A Tesla Model 3 car is displayed during a media preview in Beijing, China Apr 25, 2018.
A Tesla Model 3 car is displayed during a media preview in Beijing, China Apr 25, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (BLOOMBERG) - Tesla's China-built Model 3 sedans will start at about US$50,000 (S$68,000) in the country, slightly cheaper than the most basic imported models, after the company decided to include the Autopilot driver-assistance software in each vehicle. 

Deliveries of the variants with Autopilot will begin in the first quarter of 2020, the company said in a statement in China on Friday (Oct 25). The cheapest imported Model 3s, without Autopilot, have been selling for about US$51,500 in China, while in the US the model’s starting price is about US$39,000. 

The company could also sell some early versions of China-made Model 3s that don’t have Autopilot, though it hasn’t disclosed the exact timing or pricing for those.

The company said it plans to phase out models without Autopilot in China and no longer takes orders for such variants. 

Tesla is nearing the launch of China-made models just ten months after breaking ground on its facility near Shanghai.

The first Tesla vehicles to be produced outside the US are part of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s effort to expand in Asia and take on local EV upstarts.

This is also the first time a wholly foreign-controlled automaker has made a car in China.