Tesla Falls Behind In Fast-Growing China EV Market

Image credit: Tesla

Tesla, China’s biggest premium EV seller, sees shipments from Shanghai factory drop to lowest level in more than a year

Electric vehicle shipments from Tesla’s Shanghai plant, its first outside the US, dropped to their lowest level in more than a year amidst cutthroat competition in the world’s biggest EV market.

Tesla shipped 60,365 vehicles from the Shanghai plant in February, according to preliminary data from China’s Passenger Car Association, the lowest figure since December 2022.

The figure is down 16 percent from January and 19 percent year-on-year.

Deliveries to mainland China showed an even greater decline, with 30,141 Model 3s and Model Ys shipped in February, down 24.4 year-on-year.

The Yangwang U8 electric vehicle. Image credit: BYD tesla
BYD’s Yangwang U8 electric vehicle. Image credit: BYD

Price war

By contrast, the company shipped 39,881 units to the mainland in January, up 48.6 percent year-on-year.

For the first two months of the year Tesla shipped 70,022 units to the mainland, up 15.2 percent year-on-year.

During the same period the mainland EV sector grew by 37 percent, with mainland EV firms selling 1.06 million units in January and February, up from 770,610 the year prior.

Chinese EV makers are engaged in a price war spearheaded by worldwide EV market leader BYD in February.

Critical market

Tesla, which itself initiated a price war in late 2022 and early 2023, followed BYD’s lead with an 8,000 yuan (£865) subsidy for insurance that is valid until the end of March.

The Texas-based carmaker leads China’s premium EV segment with 603,664 deliveries to mainland customers in 2023, up 37.3 percent year-on-year, representing about one-third of its global deliveries, which reached 1.82 million units last year, up 37 percent.

China’s EV market is expected to slow from 36 percent growth last year and 96 percent in 2021 to a mere 25 percent this year, which is likely to mean even more intense competition amongst the country’s many carmakers.