Tesla Inc plans to lower production at its Shanghai factory, according to people familiar with the matter, in the latest sign demand in China isn’t living up to expectations.
The output cuts will take effect as soon as this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. They estimate the move could reduce production by about 20%.
The decision was made after the automaker evaluated its near-term performance in the domestic market, one of the people said, adding that there’s enough flexibility to increase output if demand increases.
A Tesla representative in China declined to comment.
The trims mark the first time Elon Musk’s EV pioneer has voluntarily reduced production at its Shanghai plant, with previous reductions caused by the city’s two-month Covid lockdown or supply chain snarls. However, recent price cuts and added incentives such as insurance subsidies, along with shorter delivery times, suggest demand has failed to keep up with supply after an upgrade doubled the plant’s capacity to about 1 million cars a year.
Tesla’s China deliveries were a record 100,291 in November, China’s Passenger Car Association said, as lead times for
the Model 3 and Model Y — the two iterations Tesla makes
in Shanghai — shortened markedly, another sign the factory is pumping out more cars than it can currently sell.
Any Model 3 and Model Y ordered in China today should be delivered within the month, Tesla’s website shows, down from as long as four weeks in October and up to 22 weeks earlier this year. The Shanghai factory serves mainly the Chinese domestic market although some cars are exported to Europe and other parts of Asia.
Full production capacity at the Shanghai factory is around 85,000 vehicles per month, Junheng Li, chief executive officer of equity research firm JL Warren Capital LLC, said. “Without more promotions, new orders from the domestic market will likely normalise to 25,000 in December,” she said, adding increased production couldn’t all be absorbed by exports.
Tesla is facing competition from local automakers such as BYD Co and Guangzhou Automobile Group, which are raising prices, in the world’s largest EV market. BYD posted a ninth consecutive month of record sales in November, with deliveries topping 230,000, including almost 114,000 pure-electric models.