China May Receive a Longer Range Version of Tesla Model 3

Tesla 3

Is Elon Musk's Tesla Inc. building a longer range version of its "less expensive" Model 3 sedan for China?

Apparently yes. The company is set to release one for the Chinese market soon, with the longer-range variant built in the company's factory in Shanghai.

The model is said to go at  650 kilometers (km) of driving range (based on China's rating system), compared to the current Tesla Model 3's  590-km range using the same metric.

If we translate these range numbers to US-specific EPA ratings, the longer range variant can run up to 571 and 587 km of range, translating to around 53 to 69 km farther than  the US-spec, original Model 3 that runs only at 518 km. 

Bloomberg reported that the locally-built, Model 3 sedan will be offered from as early as this week, with the most basic version starting at 350,000 yuan (PHP2.5 million). This would be around half a million pesos more expensive than the current Tesla Model 3 we have today, which is priced at 323,800 yuan (or PhP 2 million).  

Tesla 3

Still, many are left asking: why build a Model 3 that can drive faster at farther distances? Perhaps the reason is to add uniformity to its lineup. The company has already released a "Long Range Plus" variant for its Model X and Model S models, so it's only normal for them to extend this with the Model 3's lineup, as well.

Another reason for this may be to fend off brewing competition. Electric models are starting to become popular in China, with the likes of BMW AG and Volkswagen AG also positioning themselves at the forefront of the EV race in the country.

It's a known fact that Tesla's technology—although admittedly impressive—can easily be duplicated by these giant car makers. If that's the case, then we can't help but wonder how Tesla can remain afloat once the Chinese market gets saturated with electric vehicles. Can they remain financially buoyant when that happens? Or will they once again sink near bankruptcy—and never recover? 

Tesla's advantage is that it already has established itself in the country. Its Shanghai Gigafactory can produce around 150,000 Model 3 sedans a year. This is despite falling sales that started last 2019, with an 8 percent dip in year-over-year revenue since 2012.

Of course, the Coronavirus pandemic isn't making things easier for Tesla this year as well. The company's registrations have fallen for two consecutive months in China following the COVID-19 scare.

The company also shut down operations, but was able to bounce back relatively quickly and resume operations on February 10. Impressively, Tesla was able to surpass its production capacity before the shutdown, reaching a weekly production of 3,000 cars.

Whatever the case, Tesla Inc. still believes that China will be its strongest market for their Model 3—and fingers-crossed—will be the same as well for its longer range variant.

So let's wait and see what happens next. Right now, we don't have any exact details when this version will be released in the market. Despite reports saying that it will be offered as early as this week, Tesla has yet to confirm this bit of information. 

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