Tesla begins sales of cheaper Model 3 car in China

U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc said it will start taking orders in China on Friday for a lower-priced version of its Model 3 car, as it seeks to accelerate China sales hit by trade friction between Washington and Beijing.

The California-based firm said in a statement that Chinese customers will be allowed to place orders for a long range, rear-wheel-drive Model 3 variant whose price will start at 433,000 yuan ($64,300.56).

Previously, the starting price for a Model 3 in China was 499,000 yuan, for an all-wheel-drive long range version. Tesla said earlier this year that it plans to start delivering Model 3 cars to customers in China in March.

Tesla, which is building a factory to produce Model 3 vehicles in Shanghai, is looking to minimize the impact of a trade war which has so far forced it adjust prices of its U.S.-made cars in China.

Keeping prices in check will also help Tesla fend off competition from a swathe of domestic electric vehicle startups such as Nio Inc, Byton and XPeng Motors.