Tesla is preparing to export its made-in-China Model 3 cars to Europe and other markets, according to two new reports, despite Elon Musk saying that Tesla wasn’t going to do just that.

When Tesla started building its Gigafactory in Shanghai, in an attempt to reassure people that the automaker wasn’t just shifting production capacity to China, CEO Elon Musk was adamant that it was to supply local demand in China and not to export to other markets.

The optics were very important since the factory was announced amid the peak of the trade war between the US and China.

At one point, the CEO was even saying that higher-end Model 3 and Model Y vehicles for the Chinese market would still be produced in the US, and the Chinese factory would only produce “affordable versions” of the Model 3 and Model Y for local demand in greater China:

Those plans already changed since amid the pandemic and the closure of its factory in California, Tesla started producing the higher-end version of Model 3 in China and hasn’t stopped after reopening its Fremont Factory.

Now we learn that Tesla also plans to start exporting made-in-China Model 3 vehicles to other markets including in Europe.

Bloomberg reports:

China-built Tesla Model 3s intended for delivery outside the country will likely start mass production in the fourth quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. They said the markets targeted include Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, as well as Europe, where customers currently have to wait for a Tesla to be delivered from the US. Shipments could start as soon as the end of this year, or early 2021, according to the people.

Reuters also came out with a similar report today.

The move would be a change of strategy compared to plans previously disclosed by the automaker.

However, Musk had previously announced plans for Tesla to build a new electric car in China and export it worldwide, but it wasn’t the Model 3.

Tesla plans to design, engineer, and manufacture a brand-new electric car in China and distribute it worldwide.

But the strategy wasn’t supposed to extend to Model 3 or Model Y vehicles.

Electrek’s Take

I can’t say that those reports are too surprising.

I am not against it. I am not anti-“things built in China.” It’s time for many people to realize that companies build things in China not only because it is cheaper, but also because they have great expertise in manufacturing.

That maybe wasn’t as true in the automotive business, but it has certainly changed over the years.

The thing that concerns me more about this change is that Tesla wasn’t supposed to even be able to export made-in-China Model 3 vehicles because the demand would be so great in China.

They would need all the cars they can make for domestic demand.

If that has changed, is it because demand is weaker than expected, or is Tesla achieving a higher output at Gigafactory Shanghai?

Yesterday, hundreds of Model 3 cars were spotted in the loading area at the factory:

Based on registration data, Tesla’s deliveries have been strong in China over the last few months and Tesla disclosed a production capacity of 200,000 cars per year at Gigafactory Shanghai as of the end of Q2.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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