Any individual who closely follows Tesla’s numbers from countries like China would see a pattern. In Gigafactory Shanghai’s case, the first month of the quarter typically corresponds to a dip in local sales. Domestic numbers would then increase in the second month all the way to the end of the quarter. This has caused critics to question the demand for Tesla’s vehicles in China persistently.
A great example of this happened earlier this week as Tesla reported its July 2021 numbers from China. A look at Tesla’s wholesale numbers would show that the company sold a total of 32,968 vehicles, though 24,347 of them were exported abroad. This meant that Tesla China’s domestic sales took a 68% dive compared to June, when the company sold 28,138 to the local market.
With such a drop, it was no surprise that numerous Tesla critics, including some mainstream media outlets, promptly ran away with the narrative that China’s local sales are at a steep decline. Allegations of a “demand cliff” were not uncommon on social media, as were references to the company’s previous challenges in the country, such as an over-the-air software update that was branded as a “recall.”
A tweet from CEO Elon Musk has now provided some concrete clarifications about the fluctuations of Tesla China’s domestic and export numbers. According to the CEO, Tesla currently makes cars for export in the first half of a quarter. Musk did not specify if this was unique to Giga Shanghai or if this was true for the Fremont Factory as well, but he did state that the second half of a quarter is allocated for the local market.
Tesla seems to understand that China would like local champions to dominate electric vehicles (EV) sales inside the country but is pleased that Tesla is exporting from China high-quality/high-end EVs, especially to Europeans whose standards for fit-finish-design are quite high. https://t.co/kwWUO0bRzN
— Cathie Wood (@CathieDWood) August 12, 2021
The CEO also provided some insight on Tesla’s ongoing supply shortages for certain standard automotive chips, stating that so far, the most problematic are components from Renesas & Bosch. This is not a Tesla-exclusive issue, of course, as all automakers today have been affected by the shortages. Even the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s orders have been delayed by six weeks due to supply chain challenges.
Musk’s explanation would likely not be enough to persuade the company’s critics that there is no such thing as a “demand cliff” in China. Despite this, it is at least quite reassuring to see Musk directly confirm something that has been evident among those that have been closely following the company’s strategy in projects such as Gigafactory Shanghai.