Tesla further cuts prices in China amid fight for market share, low demand

Amid massive decline in share prices and the fight for capturing market, Tesla slashed car prices in China for the second time in less than three months on Friday.

The reasons are obvious: competition from low-priced automakers and amid a reduced demand outlook in the world’s largest auto market.

So the latest cut, along with a reduction in October as well as various incentives that amount to as much as 10,000 yuan extended to Chinese buyers over the past three months, amount to a 13 percent to 24 percent reduction in Tesla’s prices from September.

The prices in China of the Model 3 and Model Y cars are now 24 percent to 32 percent lower than those in the United States, Tesla’s largest market, due to reasons including different material and labour costs.

On Friday, the US electric vehicles maker slashed prices for all versions of its Model 3 and Model Y cars in China by 6 percent to 13.5 percent. The starting price for Model 3, for instance, was cut to 229,900 yuan ($33,427) from 265,900 yuan.

“Tesla’s price adjustments are backed by innumerous engineering innovations,” Grace Tao, Tesla’s vice president in charge of external communications in China, posted on her Weibo social media account on Friday. “[They] answer the government’s call to promote economic development and encourage consumption.”

The move comes after December deliveries of Tesla’s China-made cars hit their lowest in five months, and also just days after Beijing ended a subsidy programme that helped build the world’s largest electric vehicle market. Softening demand has forced Tesla and its rivals to absorb the brunt of that decision.

China Merchants Bank International (CMBI), which warned in July that the sector was headed for a price war, said Tesla’s price reduction affirmed the prediction, and said the US firm may have to do more, especially as competition with its Chinese rivals intensifies.

The Model 3 and Y have been the only models Tesla delivers in China, though on Friday it announced prices for the Model S and Model X in China.

“Tesla needs to further cut prices and expand its sales network in China’s lower-tier cities amid ageing models,” said CMBI analyst Shi Ji.

“We expect new EV production capacity in China to outpace new demand in 2023 and Tesla Shanghai’s capacity utilization could drop to about or even below 80% this year if its Berlin plant ramps up.”

BYD, which has a much larger variety of offerings that comprise both plug-in and pure electric vehicles, saw its retail sales in China double in December while Tesla’s fell 42 percent, according to data from CMBI.

Tesla did not offer any additional comment when contacted by Reuters, and a spokesperson only referred to Tao’s Weibo post.

The car maker’s discounts have brought the starting price of Model 3 to the same level of BYD’s best-selling Han EV sedan, which is sold from 219,800 yuan. The Chinese EV maker recently raised the prices for its best-selling models after losing the central government subsidies.

Sales of BYD’s Han series, including the plug-in hybrid versions, were more than double that of Model 3′s in China in the first 11 months, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Tesla share in US market to be below 20%

It is not just China as it is projected that Tesla share in the US market share will have be less than 20 percent by 2025 with the introduction of cheaper models by the rivals.

Moreover, the number of electric vehicle models currently stands at 48 but it would be 159 by 2025.

According to report a prepared by S&P Global Mobility, Tesla’s share of new registered electric vehicles in the US stood at 65 percent in the third quarter, representing down from 71 percent last year and 79 percent in 2020.

Tesla no more enjoys a monopoly as fully electric models with equal or better technology are now available in a price range below $50,000. Its entry-level Model 3 starts at about $48,200 with shipping fees, but the vehicles typically retail for higher prices with options.

“Given that consumer choice and consumer interest in EVs are growing, Tesla’s ability to retain a dominant market share will be challenged going forward,” the report says.

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