We already knew things were hopping for Tesla in China. Tesla-watchers predicted that Chinese sales would prove to be a big part of the company’s all-time record deliveries in Q3,and Elon Musk confirmed it at the shareholders meeting, announcing that Gigafactory Shanghai had surpassed the Fremont factory in production volume. (We also suspected that the company didn’t build that gigantic new delivery center in Beijing just for fun.)
Now official September sales figures from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) reveal the extent of Tesla’s triumph (as reported by Reuters). The company sold 56,006 China-made vehicles in September, the highest monthly total since production began in Shanghai about two years ago.
There are two titillating tales to be teased out here. First, we see yet another example of EVs bucking the trend of declining auto sales—the CPCA said overall passenger car sales in September were down 17% from a year earlier. Second, the share of Tesla’s China-built cars that are sold in China appears to be increasing—out of the 56,000 units sold in September, only 3,853 were exported to other markets. In August, Tesla sold 44,264 China-made vehicles, and 31,379 of those were exported.
Tesla has said that it builds vehicles for export at Giga Shanghai early in each quarter, so we may have to wait for the end of this quarter to decide whether the September increase in domestic China sales really represents a significant trend. Also in the mix is the imminent start of production at the Berlin Gigafactory, which will surely mean fewer China-made vehicles will be sent to Europe. Will Tesla be able to sustain its current production volume in Shanghai?
The tide is certainly running in Tesla’s favor—the CPCA reports that EV sales reached 21% of new car sales in the country in September. Year to date, EVs have a market share of almost 13%, compared to about 6% in 2020.