Tesla allows people in Europe and China to start configuring Model 3s

Tesla started taking reservations for the Model 3 in Europe and China at the end of 2018, which meant that interested buyers were able play around with the company’s online configurator after plunking down a $1,000 deposit. But now anyone in those markets can tinker with the company’s “design studio,” as Tesla announced on Friday that it’s opened up access to everyone in China and select left-hand-drive countries in Europe (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, and Luxembourg).

Only two versions of the Model 3 are available to configure right now: the long range all-wheel drive Model 3, and its snappier counterpart, the Model 3 Performance. The “medium range” Model 3 (which is rear-wheel drive and travels 260 miles on a charge) that Tesla unveiled in October is not listed on the design studio.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s fastest-selling car ever, and bringing it to new markets has been a major priority for the company.

China is the biggest market for electric cars in the world, and Europe is neck-and-neck with the US. Tesla spent all of 2018 focused on meeting the demand for its most affordable car in North America, which helped the company to its first profitable quarter in two years. Feeding that demand in new markets should help fuel the Model 3’s outrageous growth even more.

Bringing the Model 3 to new markets could help Tesla generate profits until it puts new cars — like the Model Y crossover SUV, or the Tesla pickup — into production, too. And it could help Tesla if demand cools in the US, which is possible now that its cars are only eligible for half of the government’s federal tax credit for EVs. The company has already cut $2,000 of the price of all models to compensate for the change, and it also appears that a number of remaining reservation holders are waiting for the $35,000 base Model 3 to be released, which won’t happen until sometime later this year.

Tesla also plans to eventually build cars locally in Europe and China. The company signed an agreement last summer to build the third Gigafactory outside Shanghai, and expects production to begin sometime in 2020. The fourth Gigafactory is likely to wind up in Europe, though no announcement has been made about which country.

Tesla has already begun producing some Model 3s specifically for these new markets (with the corresponding charge ports), according to a recent report from Electrek. The company has said it hopes to start delivering Model 3s in Europe and China by late February or early March of this year. But Tesla is still waiting for full approval of the car from European regulators before it moves forward, according to Bloomberg.

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