Less than a calendar year after Tesla began construction on its Shanghai Gigafactory, the company will ship Model 3 sedans to customers in China on Dec. 30.
The first 15 vehicles — the first built outside of the U.S. — will be delivered to Tesla employees, according to Reuters. The company then plans to begin public deliveries of the new sedans before Chinese New Year begins Jan. 25.
Tesla expects to build 3,000 Model 3 sedans a week during its initial phase of production.
Ultimately, the plant is expected to put out 250,000 vehicles annually after production of the Model Y is added. The new sedans are priced at $50,000 before state subsidies are applied. The company had already announced two price cuts of the vehicle before they ever left the factory.
Tesla Chairman Robyn Denholm said that the company is still working with local officials to gain manufacturing certification so the company can reach its production goal, Car and Driver reported. However, the Shanghai plant is already meeting one of the company’s goals for the building the facility: Saving money.
With China and the U.S. still haggling over details trade policy, especially tariffs, building the $2 billion plant allows Tesla to skip those levies while selling vehicles to the largest electric vehicle market in the world.
The government has been very friendly with Tesla, and only strengthened that bond when the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology added Tesla’s China-made Model 3 to a list of new energy vehicles exempt from purchase tax.
China has been the largest EV market for several years. More than 1.3 million new-energy vehicles, or NEVs, were sold in China last year. Not only do they sell more, they find ways to energize buyers with events to draw them in, such as races and showroom parties.
The company is also rapidly building service centers and charging stations across China. While the U.S. has seen significant growth in charging station construction, it lags the Chinese market by an 8 to 1 ratio, and the gap may be widening, according to some reports.
The success of the Shanghai Gigafactory only raises the bar for Tesla’s next plant, which is to be built near Berlin, according to the company. The timeframe for construction hasn’t been set, but there is some urgency given the ongoing tariff talk between the U.S. and the European Union.