Tesla delivered its first batch of China-made cars on Monday, less than a year after the electric vehicle company broke ground on its first plant outside the United States.
Work began on the firm’s multibillion-dollar Shanghai “Gigafactory” in January, allowing the company to skirt trade tensions between China and the US and sell directly to the world’s largest “green” vehicle market.
The first cars to roll off the assembly line — 15 of Tesla’s mid-price, mass-market Model 3 design — were given to employees who had placed advance orders during a ceremony at the plant.
Tesla plans to begin large-scale deliveries of China-made Model 3 sedans next month, said the firm’s China general manager Wang Hao.
The company was now producing more than 1,000 cars per week in China and hoped to double the figure next year, manufacturing director Song Gang told Bloomberg News.
Chief executive Elon Musk has said production could rise to 3,000 vehicles per week in the future.
China typically requires foreign automakers to forge joint ventures with domestic firms when establishing manufacturing plants, which means sharing profits and technology with local partners.
But Tesla’s China venture is wholly owned by the US company, and Tesla’s decision to invest in Shanghai has been rewarded with preferential treatment.
Authorities last week announced the waiver of a 10 percent purchase tax for locally made Model 3 vehicles, priced at 355,800 yuan ($50,900).
Earlier in December the government also approved a subsidy of up to 25,000 yuan per car.