Tesla's April Sales From China Were Mostly Exports
By Trefor Moss
SHANGHAI -- Tesla Inc. exported most of the cars produced at its
Shanghai factory in April, raising questions about the strength of
demand for its electric vehicles in China after a run of adverse
The EV maker sold 11,671 locally built Model 3 and Model Y cars
in China last month, while exporting a further 14,174, according to
the China Passenger Car Association. The association confirmed
Wednesday that a wholesale figure of 25,845 published the day
before combined local sales and exports. It was the first time it
broke down the sales that way.
Tesla didn't immediately respond to questions. The company
doesn't publish monthly sales figures and releases only global
sales data each quarter.
Some analysts have questioned whether there would be enough
demand in China to absorb most of the Shanghai's factory's planned
output of 500,000 vehicles a year. While a portion of the company's
Chinese production could be earmarked for export, the bulk of
buyers would likely need to come from China -- the world's largest
auto market -- for the factory to be sustainable. Demand from the
rest of Asia is relatively weak and Tesla is planning new
production plants in Europe and the U.S., its other main
Tesla started exporting Model 3s from China to Europe last year,
with 7,000 cars arriving in two shipments in October and December,
according to the company. Tesla's new plant in Berlin is due to
start production later this year. The company has said the Berlin
plant will initially assemble the Model Y.
A second U.S. factory, which will complement Tesla's plant in
Fremont, Calif., is also under construction near Austin, Texas. The
company has said it would produce the Model Y and the Cyber
Tesla's Shanghai factory began exporting to Asia-Pacific
markets, including Australia and Japan, earlier this year, but
outside China, Asian demand for EVs remains limited. The U.S.,
Europe and China accounted for roughly 95% of global EV sales last
year, according to the website EV Volumes. Japan, the largest Asian
market outside China, accounted for around 1% of global sales,
compared with China's 41%.
Tesla has been caught up in a series of damaging headlines in
China that may be dampening enthusiasm for its cars. Tesla had
previously been seen as a prestigious brand by Chinese
In April, a protester at the Shanghai auto show alleged that her
Model 3 had defective brakes, leading it to crash. Her protest went
viral on the Chinese internet, sparking debate about the safety of
Tesla cars and about the company's reaction when handling
complaints. The company issued an apology and pledged to work
harder to meet customers' expectations.
In February a group of national regulators summoned Tesla to
rebuke the firm over alleged quality issues, prompting a public
statement from the company and assurances that it would make
Tesla notched up 95,125 wholesale China sales in the first four
months of the year, according to the passenger car association. It
is unclear how many of those cars were shipped overseas, with the
association having only released export numbers for April.
By separating out export numbers in April, however, it is clear
that Tesla might not have the commanding lead over rival EV makers
in China that the wholesale data previously implied.
In some cases, analysts have mistakenly assumed the wholesale
figures reflect Tesla's sales in China.
Chinese EV maker BYD Co., its closest direct competitor in the
country, sold 78,414 passenger EVs in China the first four months
of the year, likely more than Tesla.
Raffaele Huang contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 12, 2021 07:23 ET (11:23 GMT)
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