Last month, we reported on posts circulating on Chinese social media suggesting Tesla is planning to ship Model 3s made in the Shanghai Gigafactory outside of China. This was based on a tweet by Ray4Tesla, who has been providing wonderful insights from Tesla China. This news was also confirmed by Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources.
A rumor just popped up on Chinese social media that MIC Model 3s will likely be shipped to some Asian countries including Singapore, Australia & New Zealand as well European market. Production for export-only Model 3s will start in Q4. Shipment is likely to occur at EOY or early 2021. pic.twitter.com/C8Sw6b2XL3— Ray4️⃣Tesla (@ray4tesla) September 11, 2020
In that report, we said the made-in-China Model 3s will ship to some Asian countries including Singapore, Australia & New Zealand as well as to some countries in the European market.
Since all the countries named on the report are right-hand drive countries, we speculated that Tesla might be planning to move production of right-hand drive vehicles from Fremont California to Shanghai Gigafactory. And according to the leak production of the export, only Model 3s was slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2020, and shipment to the markets was expected to follow shortly thereafter.
Based on the information shared with GreenDrive by a European Tesla customer, we now know that the company has started shipping made-in-China Model 3s to Europe.
The customer ordered a Standard Range Plus Model 3 and noticed that his invoice stated “Model 3 – China.”
The VIN of the Model 3 is also LRWXXXXXLCXXX. The “L” in this case stands for the year his car was made and the “C” stands for China, the country it was made in.
This is an exciting development and suggests other countries mentioned in the leak should also be getting a made-in-China Model 3 soon.
Two days back, we reported that Tesla has lowered Model 3 prices in Norway, Australia & New Zealand and we think this could mean Tesla is planning to ship cars to these countries from China.
There are several advantages to delivering cars from China, the first one being cost reduction leading to lower prices. Currently, Tesla ships Model 3s out of its Fremont California plant, which has higher labor costs, higher cost of doing business, and a less streamlined manufacturing process.
Another difference between the Model 3 made in the Fremont Factory and the Giga Shanghai Gigafactory is the battery they use. The Fremont Factory made Model 3 contain nickel manganese cobalt cells (NMC) batteries. These have more energy density. However, this seems to be the only main advantage of NMC batteries.
For cars produced in the Shanghai Gigafactory, Tesla uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. These, as compared to the NMC batteries, are twenty percent cheaper to produce, have higher cycle life, and avoid the use of controversial minerals such as cobalt.
There were a number of signs that Tesla had already started shipping made-in-China Model 3s to other countries. Wu Wa, who has been flying drones over Giga Shanghai, in one of his videos showed lots filled with Model 3s which had protective wraps and were ready to be shipped.
Initially, Elon Musk had said the Shanghai Gigafactory will only supply the local markets, and Tesla’s Fremont California plant will keep supplying cars to other countries. However, this was in the middle of the US-China trade war. The US administration was penalizing companies for outsourcing production.
But now, with focus having moved away from this issue, Tesla seems to be doing what is best for its consumers and the company’s finances.
So what do you think? Are you excited about the made-in-China Model 3s? Do you think these cars are better than the ones shipping from Fremont California? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.
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Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.