Less than a year after Tesla began construction of its Shanghai factory, the automaker delivered its first “Made in China” vehicles on Monday.
Tesla employees were the first customers for the Chinese-made Model 3s, with company Vice President Tao Lin proclaiming at the delivery ceremony, “From now onwards China-made Model 3 vehicles will start running on China’s large streets and small lanes.”
Tesla began manufacturing Model 3s in Shanghai, its first plant outside the U.S., in October and aims to produce 250,000 vehicles a year there once the Model Y goes into production. The Model 3s are priced at 355,800 yuan ($50,000) before subsidies.
“The Shanghai plant is part of the Silicon Valley automaker’s plans to bolster its presence in the world’s biggest auto market and minimize the impact of the U.S.-China trade war,” Reuters reported.
China is the world’s largest electric-vehicle market, with 1.3 million vehicles sold last year. The Tesla plant began delivering cars to customers just 357 days after construction started, setting a new record for global automakers in China.
The company made its landmark deliveries as competition in the EV market continues to intensify, with Volkswagen announcing that it will reach its goal of 1 million battery-only vehicles a year in 2023, two years earlier than originally planned.
This year, Volkswagen produced only 70,000 e-autos but it is planning to raise production by launching the ID.3 battery model next year. European automakers are under pressure to meet lower emission limits aimed at fighting climate change.
“2020 will be a key year for the transformation of Volkswagen,” Thomas Ulbrich, the company’s head of electric cars, said.
In Istanbul, meanwhile, a consortium of industrial groups unveiled an electric SUV on Friday that is the first car to be produced entirely in Turkey. The Automobile Initiative Group said it would begin production in 2022 with compact SUVs.