Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) are up more than 3% in Monday’s intraday trading, amid news of a possible reduction of auto tariffs for vehicles being exported to China, as well as reports pointing to a recent milestone in Model 3 production.
China’s apparent reduction of its 40% tariffs for American-made vehicles was initially announced by US President Donald Trump on Twitter, following his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 2018 G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina this past weekend. On his social media post, Trump noted that China has agreed to the “reduction and removal” of the 40% duties placed on US-made vehicles entering the Asian country today. China has not confirmed or provided details about its deal with the US President so far.
China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
Not long after Trump’s Twitter post, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin echoed the US President’s announcement in a statement to reporters outside the White House. While Mnuchin pointed out that he could not give the specifics of Trump and Xi’s meeting, he nonetheless noted that the “first part” of the deal was to “reduce the surcharge” on vehicles entering the Asian country.
“The first part was to reduce the surcharge, but yes there have been specific discussions on where auto tariffs will come down to, but I’m not prepared to talk about the specifics,” he said.
A reduction of import tariffs bodes well for Tesla, particularly since its two flagship vehicles have experienced massive price hikes since the US-China trade war began. When the additional duties took effect last July, the prices of the Model S and X were increased by 150,000 yuan ($22,647) to 250,000 yuan ($37,744). This resulted vehicles such as a fully loaded Model S P100D costing 1.47 million yuan ($221,937) in China — far higher than the electric car’s $147,000 price in the United States.
The US-China trade war has challenged Tesla’s operations in the country, as noted by the electric car maker in its third-quarter vehicle production and deliveries report. Late last month, Tesla even rolled out a program that reduced the prices of its vehicles by 12 to 26%, by “absorbing” a significant part of the 40% import tariff placed on its vehicles. Tesla noted that the program was aimed at making the Model S, X, and 3 more affordable for its Chinese customers.
Apart from a possible end to China’s steep 40% tariffs, a leaked email reportedly sent by Elon Musk also pointed to a recent milestone in Model 3 production. In his message, Musk noted that some teams have achieved a production level of 1,000 Model 3 per day. Musk also reportedly called on Tesla employees to help the company achieve a steady output of 1,000 Model 3 per day while maintaining quality.
“If you are able to help in any way with getting Model 3 production to a steady 1000 per day at excellent quality, everyone at the company should please consider this their top priority. Body production currently appears to be our limiting factor, so it needs the most support right now. Please focus on simplification and reducing cycle time first and then uptime,” the leaked email read.
A production rate of 7,000 Model 3 per week would be yet another breakthrough for the electric car maker, particularly as the company prepares to manufacture the $35,000 base variant of the electric sedan. The base Model 3 could prove to be Tesla’s most disruptive vehicle to date, particularly since it is priced competitively against some of the most popular sedans in the market such as the Toyota Camry.
As of writing, Tesla is trading +3.18% at $361.62 per share.
Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.