Taipei auto show opens; Tesla makes 1st-ever appearance

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Almost 2,500 units of Tesla Model 3 have been sold in Taiwan

Almost 2,500 units of Tesla Model 3 have been sold in Taiwan (CNA photo)

The Taipei International Auto Show, a biennial auto exhibition popular with Taiwanese consumers, opened Saturday with U.S.-based electric car brand Tesla Inc. making its first-ever appearance at the event.

Tesla, one of 34 car brands participating in the show, is displaying the Model 3 as well as predecessors Model S and Model X at a time when it has begun making inroads into Taiwan's market.

Since the Model 3 went on sale in Taiwan in mid-August at a starting price of about NT$1.6 million (US$52,980), almost 2,500 units have been sold, Tesla said.

According to the company, sales have risen from month to month, growing from 331 units in September to 500 in October and November and to 1,000 in the first 27 days of December. Data compiled by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) showed sales of 1,581 electric cars in Taiwan in the first 11 months of 2019, with Tesla accounting for more than 60 percent.

The MOTC figures are lower than Tesla's figures because the government counts a sale only when a car is delivered and given a license plate rather than when a sales contract is signed.

Tesla Taiwan President Chan Yi-wan (詹依宛) said Friday she was upbeat about Taiwan's potential and that Tesla will build more charging stations in Taiwan next year to boost the number to 25, from the current 14. Two new charging stations are planned for the Hsinchu high-speed rail station in January, and others will be built in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Yilan, Chan said.

Other major car brands at the show, including Nissan, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar, and BMW, are also demonstrating their new electric models to Taiwanese consumers in preparation for their launch next year, exhibition organizers said.

Car market analysts said that although electric cars are expected to gain popularity in 2020 as more people become environmentally aware, it remains to be seen whether Tesla can maintain its top spot in the market as competition from other brands heats up.

The 34 car brands introduced are displaying more than 300 new models at the show, which runs until Jan. 5 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. In addition to the emphasis on electric cars, they are also showing concept cars, designed to help consumers imagine what future cars will look like, the organizers said.