Tesla broke ground on its Shanghai factory just under a year ago. Now, it’s producing cars for customers.
Fifteen employees of the electric carmaker become the first customers to receive Model 3s produced in China during a ceremony at the factory on Monday, according to Tesla. Wang Hao, general manager for Tesla China, said during the event that more cars will be delivered to workers over the next couple of days before other customers begin receiving them next month.
The Shanghai plant was built in just 10 months and began trial production in October. The first batch of cars to roll off the assembly line began making their way to Tesla’s dozens of experience centers in China last month, where potential customers were given the opportunity to test drive them. Tesla has been taking orders for Model 3s made in China since October 25.
“This is a happy gathering,” the company wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, where it also live-streamed the Shanghai event. “The delivery of China-made Model 3s to our beloved workers is to reward everyone’s hard work this year.”
One Tesla (TSLA) employee who received a car even proposed to his girlfriend at the ceremony. He lifted the car’s hood, revealing flowers underneath, and said he wanted to give the vehicle to his girlfriend as a “gift” before asking her to marry him. (She appeared to say yes.)
Elon Musk’s carmaker built the Shanghai factory to grow its business, pump out more cars and better target Chinese customers. The facility could also push production costs lower.
Right now, a Shanghai-built Model 3 has a starting price of 355,800 yuan ($51,000), about 2% cheaper than an imported model. Buyers of the locally made cars can also take advantage of government subsidies of nearly 25,000 yuan ($3,578), and are exempt from a car purchase tax, according to the company.
Tesla isn’t new to the Chinese market — it’s been delivering cars to people there since 2014. But Musk has touted the new factory as a “template for future growth.” The company has said it wants to eventually make 500,000 cars a year in Shanghai.
It’s also the first Tesla production plant built outside the United States. Musk recently announced that the company has plans to build another one in Berlin, taking the great electric car race to the manufacturing heart of Europe.
China, meanwhile, is the world’s largest car market, though sales are slowing as the country grapples with broader economic troubles.