Tesla rolls out Model 3 in China ahead of schedule in sales push

Tesla currently imports all the cars it sells in China, but is in the process of building a factory in Shanghai. Above, guests look at a Tesla Model 3 during the ground-breaking ceremony for the facility in January 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2019

Tesla rolls out Model 3 in China ahead of schedule in sales push

  • The initial deliveries will go to customers who placed their orders before the end of 2018
  • Tesla currently imports all the cars it sells in China, but is in the process of building a factory in Shanghai

BEIJING/SHANGHAI: Tesla has started delivering Model 3 cars in China slightly ahead of schedule, as it looks to revive its sales that have been hit hard by Sino-US trade tensions.
The California-based firm has already adjusted prices and added a cheaper Model 3 variant to its line-up to make its US-made cars more affordable in China amid high import tariffs.
The US luxury electric vehicle said in a statement that it held a delivery event in Beijing on Friday which “marked a significant milestone for the market.”
It had initially projected a March start for Model 3 deliveries in China — the world’s biggest auto market where overall car sales contracted in 2018 for the first time in more than two decades.
The initial deliveries will go to customers who placed their orders before the end of 2018, Tesla said. Buyers that ordered this year will start receiving their cars from end-March.
“I see its earlier-than-expected delivery as an effort to try and seize the market as quickly as possible” amid mounting competition, said Alan Kang, an analyst at LMC Automotive.
“Many of its potential customers will not only be considering Tesla’s Model 3 but also other electric car models like Jaguar’s I-PACE or that from Audi and Mercedes-Benz,” the Shanghai-based analyst added.
While auto sales in China have waned as the economy slowed, Tesla’s business was hit hard after Beijing raised tariffs on US auto imports to 40 percent in July amid the trade tensions. China has since temporarily suspended the additional 25 percent tariff, reducing it to the 15 percent level.
Tesla currently imports all the cars it sells in China, but is in the process of building a factory in Shanghai that will manufacture Model 3 cars in the initial phase and help it minimize the impact of the trade war.
The United States and China are in the midst of talks aimed at resolving their trade dispute. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement by March 1, US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to spike to 25 percent from 10 percent.
Tit-for-tat tariffs between the world’s two top economies have upended international trade flows.
Tesla’s earlier-than-scheduled delivery, however, comes as the automaker was dealt a setback on Thursday after Consumer Reports, an influential US magazine, withdrew its endorsement for Model 3, citing reliability problems.
The magazine’s decision to withdraw its endorsement, less than nine months after recommending the electric sedan, raised questions about quality that Tesla has faced since the Model 3’s difficult launch.


ADNOC wants its flagship crude as global benchmark

Updated 58 min 10 sec ago

ADNOC wants its flagship crude as global benchmark

  • Abu Dhabi oil giant’s ambitious call comes amid falling Brent volumes and new UAE exchange plan

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) is aiming to have its Murban futures contract eventually replace North Sea benchmark Brent whose volumes are declining, an ADNOC executive said on Tuesday.

Intercontinental Exchange Inc. plans to launch a new exchange in the UAE, ICE Futures Abu Dhabi (IFAD), in the first half of 2020 to host ADNOC’s flagship Murban crude grade.

“We want to give the industry Murban as a replacement for Brent crude futures,” Philippe Khoury, head of trading at ADNOC group, told an energy conference in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

“We still have to demonstrate that over time the community can trust the crude as a benchmark,” he added.

Oil majors BP, Total, Inpex, Vitol , Shell, Petrochina, Korea’s GS Caltex, Japan’s JXTG and Thailand’s PTT have agreed to become partners in the new exchange.

Vitol CEO Russel Hardy said that it will take time to build liquidity on the new exchange, and that Brent, a basket of different crude qualities, and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) were very established.

“There is a great deal of different constituents playing in those markets. These things will take time to build up on the exchange here,” he said at the same panel discussion.

“It is right to have that level of ambition but it will take some time to build that level of liquidity,” he said of ADNOC’s plans for Murban.

The new contract will create an alternative benchmark to the most commonly used Middle East standard, the Dubai/Oman benchmark operated by the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) and traded on CME’s electronic platform.

Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council last week approved the launch of a new pricing mechanism for Murban crude as part of ADNOC’s broader transformation strategy. It authorized the state energy firm to remove destination restrictions on Murban sales.

ADNOC plans to implement new Murban forward pricing between the second quarter and third quarter of 2020.

UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said earlier on Tuesday that he saw no conflict between his country’s compliance with OPEC output cuts and plans to list Murban.

He said the UAE remained committed to cuts agreed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, plus allies led by Russia. These countries have since January implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) which lasts until March 2020, in an attempt to boost prices.

“I don’t think there is a conflict in floating Murban with the fact that UAE is going to comply with whatever we agree to with OPEC. I am not worried about that,” Mazrouei said.

Murban light crude output is around 1.6-1.7 million barrels per day. The UAE has traditionally sold oil directly to end-users, mainly in Asia, based on retroactive pricing rather than forward pricing used by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.

The UAE, the third-largest OPEC producer behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq, pumps around 3 million bpd, produced mostly by ADNOC.