Tesla's China-made electric car with autopilot goes on sale

Tesla's Model 3 with autopilot is priced from 355,800 yuan (S$68,600), making it the US company's cheapest model on sale in China.
Tesla's Model 3 with autopilot is priced from 355,800 yuan (S$68,600), making it the US company's cheapest model on sale in China.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING/SHANGHAI • US electric vehicle maker Tesla yesterday started selling its China-made Model 3 with an autopilot function, priced from 355,800 yuan (S$68,600), making it the company's cheapest model on sale in China, the official website showed.

It suspended website sales of a less expensive variant of the same model, lacking an autopilot function, it had previously offered at 328,000 yuan.

The company surprised investors with a quarterly profit that sent its shares soaring this week, but it has yet to prove it can be consistently profitable while managing the start of production at its Shanghai plant.

Billionaire Elon Musk's flagship company has started trial runs at its new US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) China factory ahead of schedule as it races to reach an ambitious target of an annualised production rate of 500,000 vehicles by the year end.

The company has obtained the certificate it needs to manufacture in the country, but analysts contend that uncertainties around labour and suppliers will make it a challenge to start mass production.

Tesla is also in the process of obtaining a key certification needed to sell China-made cars in the country, it told local media, though it is unclear when the government will grant it sales clearance.

The US-made Model 3 has so far fared well in China. Sales likely surged more than threefold to 10,542 cars in the quarter ended Sept 30, according to research firm LMC Automotive.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2019, with the headline 'Tesla's China-made electric car with autopilot goes on sale'. Print Edition | Subscribe