President Donald Trump is brawling with Chinese President Xi Jinping over trade, and the latest victims in their tariff squabble are prospective Tesla owners in China.
Prices for Elon Musk’s electric cars are skyrocketing by at least $20,000 after China increased the car import tax by 40 percent last week. This hike comes about a week after China lowered the foreign car import taxes from 25 to 15 percent.
Although some car labels like Ford may absorb the heightened costs to mitigate price increases, Tesla is so far the first American carmaker to raise its prices.
So the cheapest Tesla, the Model S sedan, now costs $128,500 compared to $107,400 before the tariffs went into effect, and the company’s most expensive car, the fully loaded Model X crossover, costs $240,000 compared to its previous $200,000 price tag.
China is a major market for Tesla, and Tesla has long considered opening a factory in Beijing to avoid paying import taxes, but a solid plan hasn’t taken shape. Musk said in November that manufacturing his electric cars in China remained a handful of years away, while he told shareholders that it could start as early as July this year.
The Tesla chief executive is, however, attending a government event in Shanghai today and will drop by Beijing later this week. Although we don’t know what he’s doing during his visits, we do know China in 2017 accounted for around 17 percent of Tesla’s revenue, so Musk could be making money moves this week.