Tesla delivered a record 70,602 vehicles in December in China, which came as a surprise even after the US carmaker raised prices of locally produced vehicles twice in the space of five weeks to tame demand.
According to the China Passenger Car Association, the Austin, Texas-based company delivered 70,847 vehicles, including exports of 245 units in December, a year-on-year jump of 197.6 per cent.
Tesla’s December deliveries easily surpassed the previous record of 52,153 units in September when it sold a total 56,006 vehicles, including exports, made at its Shanghai plant. Tesla makes the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV at the Gigafactory 3.
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“Tesla doesn’t want to take too many orders and so it raised prices to curb demand,” said Phate Zhang, founder of Shanghai-based tech portal CnEVpost. “The Shanghai factory, facing rising number of orders and shortage of chips, may not be able to produce enough vehicles to satisfy the market demand.”
Tesla China said in a statement that its Gigafactory 3, which began operations at the end of 2019, delivered 484,130 vehicles in 2021, representing 51.7 per cent of its global total of 936,000 units.
In China, 321,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles were delivered to customers last year, 117 per cent higher than 2020.
“Tesla will keep investing in key areas that can improve efficiency and quality of its vehicles,” Tesla China said.
Despite a sterling 2021, Elon Musk-helmed Tesla had run-ins with regulators and customers regarding the quality of its cars and safety in China.
Its China executives were grilled by mainland regulators about the quality of Model 3s in February amid a wave of complaints from owners.
In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese authorities had restricted the use of Tesla vehicles by military staff and employees of key state-owned companies after the company was found to use cameras and ultrasonic sensors inside its cars.
In December, the State Administration for Market Regulation asked Tesla to recall nearly 200,000 vehicles delivered to mainland buyers from 2015 to 2020, which included imports from the US because of defects that could lead to sudden opening of the boot or the bonnet while driving.
A senior Tesla sales manager told the Post in November that the factory in Shanghai had reached its annual capacity of 450,000 units. He, however, added that a global shortage of automotive chips might hit production and deliveries in the early part of this year.
Tesla raised prices of the basic editions of its Shanghai-made vehicles on November 24 and December 31 to curb demand.
The price of the basic edition of the Model Y SUV went up by 9.4 per cent to 301,840 yuan (US$47,424) after the two increases and the Model 3 sedan saw its price rise 5.9 per cent to 265,652 yuan.
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