| 2:07 AM EST

Tesla Begins Sales of China-Built EVs

Tesla pulled a largely symbolic marketing stunt in China today by delivering 15 locally made Model 3 electric sedans to its own employees.
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Tesla pulled a largely symbolic marketing stunt in China today by delivering a tiny batch of Model 3 electric sedans built in its new factory in Shanghai.

The largely symbolic deliveries came less than one year after the company began erecting the facility, a remarkable feat in itself. The plant also is the first auto plant China has allowed to be wholly foreign-owned.

But the fact that all 15 vehicles turned over today were bought by Tesla’s own employees suggests the company isn’t quite ready to flood the market with the $50,000 locally made cars.

Cleared to Drive?

Tesla has been shipping small numbers of display cars from the Shanghai facility to Chinese showrooms since late November. But those vehicles weren’t allowed to be driven on public roads because the government hadn’t certified them yet, according to the Xinhua news service.

That all-important step appears to have been reached at last. Tao Lin announced at today’s delivery ceremony that “from now onward, Chinese-made Model 3 sedans will start running on China’s large streets and small lanes,” Reuters reports.

The Real Schedule

Tesla has said it wants to begin delivering Model 3s to customers in meaningful numbers by the end of January. That target appears doable. But the facility isn’t expected to rival the output of Tesla’s home plant in California for many months.