Photos Reveal Made in China Model 3 Performance at Giga Shanghai

Tesla’s Chinese Gigafactory, Giga Shanghai, is continuing production amid the coronavirus outbreak. Now, recent photos reveal that Giga Shanghai appears to be producing Made in China Model 3 Performance vehicles. This would be a first for Giga Shanghai, and a departure from previous plans.

Made in China Model 3 Performance spotted leaving Giga Shanghai

Specifically, this news come from the Twitter user @JayinShanghai, who covers Giga Shanghai and Model 3 deliveries. Jay in Shanghai reportedly got the following photos from one of his followers. The pictures depict car carriers with Model 3 Performance vehicles going from Giga Shanghai.

Made in China Model 3 Performance

Most notably, these Model 3 Performance carry the special “Made in China” badge. Moreover, the vehicles also come with the thin red line under the “Model 3” badge, denoting a Model 3 Performance. 

This news is somewhat odd, as Tesla has previously said it will not build Model 3 Performance trims in Shanghai. Business Insider’s recap of Tesla’s 2018 Q4 call states China would not make Long-Range, AWD and Performance Model 3s.

Tesla Model 3 Performance China Red Brake Calipers

Is Tesla changing its plans?

Instead, Tesla’s Californian Fremont factory would be producing these higher-end trims for the Chinese market. It now seems that these plans are shifting, as recent photos reveal Tesla Model 3 Performance versions with the Made in China badge. 

Although the red Performance brake calipers are not immediately visible on the following photos, they are, however, there. Specifically, if one boosts the clarity of the pictures, reduces the contrast and increases the saturation, the red brake calipers appear (see following picture).

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Tesla Model 3 Performance China Red Brake Calipers

As such, there is little debate that these vehicles are, in fact, Model 3 Performance cars. However, it is unclear why they are now being sent from Giga Shanghai – especially with the Made in China badge.

TSLA Times’ Take:

This all seems a bit odd. We’ve known for some time that the margins on Model 3 vehicles produced at Giga Shanghai would be higher than those produced at Fremont. As such, it would make sense to produce the Model 3 Performance there as well, instead of importing it.

However, Musk has also said that Tesla would be keeping production of higher-trim Tesla Model 3 versions at Fremont. It is possible that the outbreak of the coronavirus is now complicating supply-lines across the Pacific and into China.

As such, the Chinese-made Model 3 Performance could be a temporary measure to build local Model 3 Performance. It is also possible, however unlikely, that these are Fremont Model 3 Performance vehicles, for some reason carrying the Made in China badge.

On the other hand, demand for the Model 3 Performance in China could potentially be stronger than what Tesla was expecting. As such, it is conceivable that Tesla is simply adjusting its previous plans to add Model 3 Performance production in China.

This would likely be the most cost-effective move for Tesla. Shipping thousands of cars across the Pacific Ocean when they could be built locally is a waste of resources. What’s more, it takes up valuable production resources in Fremont that Tesla could use for US cars. Fremont is already packed to the gills – especially now that Model Y production is ramping.

Update

A fresh announcement from Reuters reveals that Tesla now has approval to sell Chinese-made Model 3 Long Range in China. There is still no word on whether Tesla will also manufacture Chinese-made Model 3 Performance variant in China, but the pictures above suggest that is the case. It is also possible that the Model 3 Performance vehicles seen in the photos above are from Fremont with a Chinese Tesla badge. However, the 19-inch Gemini wheels seem to suggest they are, in fact, China-made.

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