Tesla Model 3 sales in China plunge 64% in April despite electric car market recovery

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an event at the site of the company’s manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China, on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.

  • Sales of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan in China fell over 64% in April compared with the previous month.
  • Tesla sold 3,635 Model 3 cars in April — down from 10,160 in March, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said.
  • China’s coronavirus lockdown measures earlier this year forced the U.S. automaker to temporarily shut down its Shanghai factory and stores.

Sales of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan in China fell over 64% in April compared with the previous month, despite a recovery in the electric car market, according to data from an industry body released on Monday.

Tesla sold 3,635 Model 3 cars in April — down from 10,160 in March, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said.

That fall comes despite a 9.8% month-on-month rise in electric car sales in China in April. The CPCA reported that it is also seeing a bounce back in demand following the outbreak of the coronavirus in the world’s second-largest economy, which effectively shut the country down for a number of weeks.

A Tesla spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

In an earnings call on April 29, CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla was lowering the price of the Model 3 in China.

“We are making rapid progress on lowering the production cost in China, and we’re actually excited to announce on this call that we will be reducing the price of the Standard Range Model 3 basically tomorrow China time,” he said at that time, according to a FactSet transcript. “And that will be a price below the subsidy limit, and we feel confident that that will still be a vehicle that delivers good gross margin.”

China’s lockdown affected Tesla, among other automakers and factories in the country. The U.S. automaker had to temporarily shut down its Shanghai factory and stores earlier this year.

Its Shanghai factory, which started production in October last year, is the company’s first that’s located outside the U.S. Tesla only started delivering Model 3 cars to customers in China in January.

In its report, the CPCA did not provide analysis as to what drove the drop in Model 3 sales.

For the first four months of the year, Tesla sold a total of 19,705 Model 3 cars, the CPCA said.

— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

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