Earlier this week, a report was released that revealed Tesla’s margins for the Model Y crossover in Shanghai. Guosen Securities, a Shenzen-based financial firm, found that Tesla holds a nearly 30% marginal rate on every unit. As the Model Y just recently began production and has become available for Chinese citizens to order, Tesla is already winning in 2021 as demand for the all-electric crossover is expected to be higher than the already-popular Model 3.
Peeking at the margins, it was reminiscent of the astronomical margins Tesla held early on with the Model 3 in Shanghai: 39.37%.
Breaking down the math for you all, an article I wrote earlier this week on the topic describes the price for manufacturing the vehicle and then compares it to the Made-in-Shanghai Model Y price for consumers.
“According to the Shenzhen, China-based financial firm, Tesla’s China Model Y only costs ¥237,930 (USD 36,852) to produce. However, its selling point gives Tesla a 29.4% gross margin with a price of ¥339,900 (USD 52,646.25). Due to the current demand for the all-electric crossover that just started being produced at Giga Shanghai, Tesla has plenty of room to come down. The company will likely do this after the demand is sustained for several months because the automaker did the same thing with the Model 3 after its initial gross margin was also turning Tesla a tasty profit.”
As a $TSLA investor, the margins made me feel great. Tesla is turning a sizeable profit on Model Y builds early on, and the margins are significantly higher than the automotive industry average, which sets around 8-10%. Holding 30% margins on any product, let alone a $52,000 car, is everything investors want. It means the company is pricing their vehicles to be competitive in a market where EVs are thriving, but it also means that Tesla is able to sell their car at a higher price while still being able to keep demand sustained.
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But it got me to thinking, does this mean that Tesla could technically drop the price of the Model Y in the future? The company would have the ability to still turn a profit and have a great margin that is higher than the auto industry average, but it would also create even more buzz for the car because it would be priced even lower than it already is. It is no secret that Tesla leads the industry in many ways, and a cheaper price tag for a Tesla EV would likely do a number of things that could be looked at positively: 1) Make a car more affordable, inching closer to price parity, and 2) Increase the number of vehicles on the road that dawn the Tesla T.
From an investor’s standpoint, it is tough to see an argument where lower margins are a good thing. We want competitive pricing, but why would we want it to be lower if the sales are there? Demand is healthy, there is no questioning that. Tesla showrooms in China were filled over the weekend with people looking to get a glimpse of the Model Y. Rumors have indicated that Tesla has already sold out of the car, showing that the vehicle was highly-anticipated and regardless of the price, people would buy.
So what’s the big deal? Why would anyone want to decrease the cost of the cars?
From a consumer standpoint, lower prices are always better. Of course, wherever we can stand to save a few hundred, or even a couple thousand dollars on a car, we are going to do it. Of course, Tesla did away with price negotiations for cars (which is by far the most stressful part of buying a vehicle), so it’s not like owners can save money by wiggling down salespeople.
But looking at it from this point of view, Tesla has room to come down, and they’ve done it before. The Model 3, at the time of its release in China last year, was giving Tesla a massive 39.37% margin, and the price of the car was decreased five times in 2020. Based on estimations, Tesla could have margins around 25% on the Model 3 now, a nearly 15% decrease compared to the earliest projections.
There was wiggle room: Tesla did it once to reach the price point for government incentives, and others because production costs had gone down due to vertical integration. Grace Tao says there are probably no more price reductions in the future on the Model 3, but who knows what could happen.
The Model Y is a highly appealing vehicle due to its body style. Crossovers are some of the most popular cars on the market, and Tesla knows that. Elon Musk once said that the Y would overcome the 3 and be Tesla’s biggest seller. After the company released the Standard Range RWD variant on Thursday night, it is a good possibility to happen this year.
I think it is safe to assume that the Model Y will be a popular car in China just like the Model 3 has been. I think it is safe to assume that Tesla will really only battle with GM’s Wuling HongGuang Mini EV in that market this year. I also think it is safe to assume that Tesla isn’t going to adjust the price of the Model Y soon, considering the car just came out.
Moving forward, I think that consumers can assume that the Model Y will drop in price. Tesla will confirm that demand is healthy, and the company will continue to integrate parts of the car locally to save costs. This will bring the cost of the vehicle down anyway, so the price to the consumer will likely be adjusted accordingly.
There are advantages to keeping the margins high, especially with Tesla, because it is such a young company. Profitability will only increase, and Tesla will likely extend its consecutive quarter streak because of it. Tesla will make more money, sales will likely remain as demand is healthy, and shareholders will keep their smiles because the stock price will go up.
There are also advantages to cutting the cost: Tesla will move closer to parity with gas cars by adjusting the price, it will still have considerably higher margins than the auto industry average, and it will still make Tesla money, even if it is less.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. I spoke to other investors, and they saw both sides as well, but of course, they felt the higher margins were more advantageous as their money is funneled into the company. I also feel that the high margins benefit me personally, but I would also like to see price decreases in the future to make the EVs more affordable.
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