A smattering of recent Model 3 and Model Y sightings, along with signs of an imminent expansion into Singapore, are signalling that Tesla is making moves to increase its model offerings and footprints in the South East Asian region.
And it could mean big news for Australia, both for the availability of the Model Y electric crossover in Australia, and China-made and potentially lower cost Model 3 electric sedans.
Australia currently sources its Tesla’s Model 3s from the Fremont factory in California, and the Model Y electric crossover is not yet even available for pre-orders.
But two recent sightings, including made-in-China Model 3s in right-hand drive, and a camouflaged Model Y apparently also made in China, could signal that changes are afoot.
According to “Ray4Tesla”, a Tesla watcher located in Shanghai, six RHD Model 3s have been spotted in Hong Kong. The VINs on the vehicle begin with “LRW” which indicates they have been made in China.
JUST IN: 6 MIC Model 3s are spotted in Hong Kong. VIN # starting with LRW indicates MIC. All these are RHD or RHW vehicles. Based on this info, it may not be long before we see MIC Model 3s in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
— Ray4️⃣Tesla⚡️????☀️???? (@ray4tesla) November 8, 2020
These are the first images of RHD Model 3s from China that we have seen to date.
In September, Bloomberg reported that sources confirmed China-made Model 3s would be exported to right-hand drive markets in the Asia Pacific region, as well as Europe.
China-made Model 3s are now being shipped to Europe, and it would appear the expansion to SE Asia and the Pacific is also now underway.
As Ray4Tesla notes, “Based on this info, it may not be long before we see MIC Model 3s in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc.”
Also of interest is the recent sighting of what appears to be a camouflaged Model Y at Tesla’s Shanghai gigafactory. As Reuters reported on Friday, the EV maker has sought permission from the local authorities to start making the Model Y in Shanghai.
According to Wu Wa, who shares videos about the Gigafactory 3 on Youtube, he saw the camouflaged vehicle on Friday (China time).
“On the morning of November 6, I was passing by the west gate of the factory on my way back to the original location after completing the ground recording of the west side of the factory, when I found a fully camouflaged car parked at the west gate ready to enter the factory,” he wrote in the video’s description on Youtube (see the video below).
“I immediately realized that this car should be the MIC Model Y that everyone has been talking about recently, I quickly took out my camera to shoot, and when I ran to the bridge, the “camouflaged car” had been slowly driving into the factory.”
For Australia, this is a notable sighting because it brings up the question of whether it will be a China made Model Y that makes it here instead of a Fremont made vehicle.
If so, it may mean that Tesla can introduce the Model Y to Australia at a lower price point than the circa $85,000 currently estimated using this calculator.
Tesla is also expanding into Singapore, the Straits Times. Singapore, like Hong Kong and Australia, is also a right-hand drive market.
As the Straits Times notes, the EV maker has posted job advertisements that indicate a showroom may be opening in the not-too-distant future, and other media reports say that Tesla is readying to build its EV charigng network there also.
— Eugene Ng (@EugeneNg_VCap) November 7, 2020
Tesla boss Elon Musk has previously lamented Singapore’s lack of support for electric vehicles, saying on Twitter that, ““Singapore is a very prosperous city and yet has very few electric cars.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.