Tesla’s Shanghai-made Model Y gets rousing reception as Chinese buyers rush to place orders for competitively priced SUV

Daniel Ren
·3-min read

Tesla’s Shanghai-made Model Y has received an enthusiastic initial response from Chinese customers eager to place orders for the battery-powered SUV, after the carmaker priced it much lower than their expectations.

However, buyers of the second locally-built Tesla model will have to wait until late February for deliveries to start, according to staff at a company showroom on Shibo Avenue in Pudong, Shanghai.

“The prices are so attractive that we cannot resist,” said Chen Zhiyi, a customer visiting the showroom, who plans to order a Model Y. “It will not take too long before we see a lot of Model Ys clog the streets.”

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

On January 1, Tesla announced the official launch of the Model Y in China and began taking orders from customers.

Tesla has slashed prices of its made-in-China Model Y. Photo: Handout
Tesla has slashed prices of its made-in-China Model Y. Photo: Handout

On Sunday, at least 30 customers were seen closely inspecting a Model Y made at the Gigafactory on display at the Pudong showroom. The customers took turns to chat with salespersons to get more information about the car, the sales procedure and to sit in the driver’s seat to get a feel of the car.

Tesla has slashed prices of its made-in-China Model Y cars to woo drivers in the world’s largest electric vehicle market, ratcheting up pressure on its global and Chinese rivals that focus on the premium segment.

The Long Range version of Model Y starts from 339,000 yuan (US$52,074), excluding a government subsidy, 30 per cent cheaper than the price quoted six months ago when presale orders could first be placed.

“Competition in the premium electric vehicle segment is set to escalate now that Model Y is showing signs of grabbing a big market share,” said Gao Shen, an independent analyst on manufacturing industries in Shanghai. “Tesla’s rivals have to take action to fight back to maintain their share.”

Prices of Tesla’s competitors, such as Xpeng Motor’s P7 all-electric sedan, start from 229,900 yuan after government subsidies. Li Auto’s ONE SUV sells for 328,000 yuan, while NIO’s ES6 SUV starts at 346,600 yuan. Prices are several notches higher for foreign marques, with the Mercedes-Benz EQC going at 499,800 yuan while BMW’s iX3 retails for 469,900 yuan.

Local media reported that some drivers who previously ordered cars by Tesla challengers – NIO, Xpeng and Li Auto – have reneged on their contracts and were looking to buy Model Y.

Tesla’s Model 3 sedan, its first mass production model in Shanghai, is the runaway leader in the mainland’s premium EV segment. It took Tesla only 12 months to launch the Shanghai-made Model 3 following a record construction speed of its first offshore factory. In January, 2020, Tesla delivered the first batch of locally built Model 3 cars to mainland buyers.

The California-based carmaker’s eightfold jump in share price in 2020 propelled it into the world’s eighth-biggest company by value, larger than the combined capitalisation of Toyota Motor, Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler.

Tesla and Chinese technology media and content provider PingWest had been engaging in a war of words over the US carmaker’s China plant.

PingWest published an article, citing unidentified employees and suppliers, that described Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai as a sweat shop, a claim which Tesla disputed and threatened to sue over.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article Tesla’s Shanghai-made Model Y gets rousing reception as Chinese buyers rush to place orders for competitively priced SUV first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.