There are a number of reports online today that indicate we could be in for a shift to where Australian Tesla’s are manufactured.
When Tesla first starting shipping cars into Australia, the only factory they had was in the US, so of course our cars had to be shipped from the other side of the world.
Shipping cars is not like shipping iPhones, the size, weight and cost of moving products at that scale is problematic. Anything you could do to reduce that cost, and risk, and time, would be advantageous to the cost structures of Tesla, but also the delivery times to Australian customers.
Since last year, Tesla has had Gigafactory Shanghai. Located in Asia Pacific, it actually makes very logical sense that Tesla would start producing cars for our market from China, instead of California.
As you can see from this video, take and published last month, Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai is enormous and growing.
Not only is Tesla making Chinese-based Model 3s there, but they’re also now adding a Model Y production line, which is said to be ready any day now (officially due by the end of 2020).
The one problem with this seemingly perfect match is the fact that we drive on the wrong side of the road. China, like a majority of the world, drives on the right-hand side of the road, while Australia, New Zealand and Japan are the biggest car markets in this half of the globe that are LHD.
Europe is also getting a Tesla Gigafactory with Giga Berlin, so they’re likely to service the UK market, which also is a LHD market.
While Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y, maybe the simplest drive-side accommodations, thanks to the central screen, it does require a whole separate part of the assembly line, something that doesn’t come cheap.
While Model Y is ramping up in China, to sell hundreds of thousands of cars into that market, it seems like a stretch to believe that less 10,000 cars for Australia could generate enough revenue to fund the development of a RHD line.
Ultimately if it was to happen, it should reduce the cost of the vehicle, given we’re not having to pay for transport across the globe. This change in production location could also accelerate the introduction of the Model Y into Australia.
Once China gets that product leaving the factory at volume, I would hope that Australia could secure some of that supply (once they get around to flipping the steering wheel and pedals.
If the cost reductions were passed on to Aussie customers, that would definitely help the affordability of the cars and could generate increased demand locally.
Here’s the latest drone video from the Giga Shanghai site.