China EV makers to take on Tesla's Model 3 through price, local manufacture

Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:33am EDT
 
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By Norihiko Shirouzu

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - It's not due to arrive in China until next year, but already Chinese-funded, smart, connected plug-in car start-ups are scrambling to launch cars to go head-to-head against Tesla Inc's "mass market" Model 3 sedan.

For leading Chinese electric vehicle (EV) start-ups such as Future Mobility, WM Motor and Singulato Motors, the key is that they will produce their cars locally, making them better able to match the Model 3's price.

Tesla, which has largely enjoyed a monopoly in the premium electric car market, is expected to price its Model 3 from $35,000 in the United States. Buyers in China would expect to add 25 percent to that in import tariffs.

The founders and CEOs of Future Mobility, WM Motor and Singulato acknowledge the Model 3 is the car to beat.

The first vehicles they aim to launch in the next couple of years will be priced around 300,000 yuan (roughly $43,500) or below, they told Reuters ahead of the Shanghai auto show, which opens to the public on Friday.

"Between 200,000 yuan and 300,000 yuan," said Singulato's co-founder and CEO Shen Haiyin.

The Chinese-funded firms' strategy is to beat the Model 3 in China by making their cars more premium and yet cheaper than Tesla's mass-market all-electric battery car.

The three start-ups see California-based Tesla's weakness in its inability to produce cars in China, the world's leading market for plug-in cars.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO: A prototype of the Tesla Model 3 is on display in front of the factory during a media tour of the Tesla Gigafactory which will produce batteries for the electric carmaker in Sparks, Nevada, U.S. July 26, 2016.  REUTERS/James Glover II/File Photo