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Tesla sales tripled in China last month in massive rebound

The electric carmaker had a very good May, as did Chinese car sales in general.

2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance
The Model 3 is one popular EV in China.
Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Given slumps earlier this year and issues surrounding supply chains and lockdowns, Tesla China likely popped champagne after viewing sales figures for May.

Bloomberg reported on data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers that showed Tesla sales tripled last month. In  April, Tesla sold just 3,635, but in May, the company moved 11,095 electric cars in a massive bump. The boost comes as China's auto sales increased for the first time in nearly a year.

While the automaker enjoyed the sales bump locally, it also navigated changing regulations. As China continues to phase out very generous government incentives for new-energy vehicle purchases, Tesla dropped prices on the Model 3 to ensure that buyers still received the incentives. Prices fell about 10%, or $8,000 at current exchange rates, for the least expensive Model 3 Standard Range.

China will only subsidize the purchase of an electric car if the vehicle lists under 300,000 yuan, or a 10% cut in the price ceiling. Next year, the country will drop the ceiling another 20%. How Tesla will meet the even more stringent price cap remains to be seen.

We do know the automaker has big plans for China. Eventually, CEO Elon Musk wants to build the Model Y SUV locally at its Shanghai plant and the company is considering having a local design studio possibly build China-centric electric cars.

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