Three Chinese Startups Are Looking to Undercut Tesla Model 3's Price

Singulauto EV prototype 1 photo
Photo: Singulauto Motors
Tesla is putting the final touches on the Model 3 ahead of its release planned for this summer, and even though it will first sell the new EV on home ground, China will eventually become an important market as well.
A few Chinese companies aren't upset at all about this delay for the Asian region as it gives them more time to prepare their own competing products. And even though it's not exactly their fault, these companies aren't playing fair.

When it does make it into China, the Model 3 will be sold there with a much higher base price than the $35,000 promised by Elon Musk. The Chinese government has set prohibitive import tariffs that add up to 25 percent over the retail price recommended by the manufacturer for products coming from abroad.

That means the Model 3 will start at nearly $50,000, which is still a bargain for all the Chinese customers who have already bought Tesla's previous vehicles, but does make the "mass-market" tag that the Model 3 uses seem a little farfetched. Besides, the new EV from California is likely to find the Chinese market a pretty hostile place.

If the only real competitor in the U.S. is the Chevrolet Bolt - which is available only in limited numbers at the moment - Chinese startups are looking to make things a lot more difficult for Elon Musk's latest EV. Future Mobility, WM Motor, and Singulauto Motors are three of the companies that have expressed their intention to offer more accessible alternatives to the Model S.

Singulatuo Motors, for instance, has prepared a weird vehicle that looks like a futuristic APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) with two very large doors that somewhat resemble Model X's Falcon Wings. Hybridcars says the company wants to make its yet unnamed vehicle more premium and less expensive than Tesla's. The other two startups have more or less similar plans, all focusing on the release of electric SUVs or crossovers by 2020 that will sell for less than Model 3's price in China.

What these three are missing is that Tesla sells more than just a vehicle. Even though we're not talking premium anymore with the Model 3, people will always associate Tesla vehicles with the Model S and its level of luxury (helped by the fact the Model 3 resembles it heavily). Besides, the Chinese will always hold a foreign model in high regards compared to one built by a local company.

And then there's also the Supercharger network aspect. Yes, the number of regular charging stations is growing by the day and so is their charging output, but at this point, you're still buying into a promise. Even with the extra charges bumping up the price in China, fighting Tesla isn't going to be easy and you can't help but feel that the ones with the most chances are still the legacy automakers.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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