Tesla has started taking orders for its Model 3 sedan in China for a deposit of $1 153, according to the electric carmaker's China website. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

INTERNATIONAL - Tesla has started taking orders for its Model 3 sedan in China for a deposit of $1 153.60 (R16 000), according to the electric carmaker's China website.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said, “Probably some deliveries in March, but April is more certain”, after a Twitter user asked when the deliveries in China would begin.

Tesla declined to comment.

The company has been banking on its Model 3 sedan, the performance of which is seen crucial to the carmaker’s future. Shares of Tesla rose 1.6 percent at $353 in morning trading.

China is the largest market for electric vehicles and most forecasters predict that its sales in the country will speed up rapidly as government regulation drives toward a goal of 100-percent electric vehicles by 2030.

Tesla had signed a deal with Shanghai authorities in July to build its first factory outside the United States, which would cost around $2 billion to construct and would double the size of its global manufacturing.

The Shanghai Gigafactory, based in eastern China, aims to manufacture Model 3 and Model Y cars, with annual capacity of 250 000 vehicles, according to a filing.

Tesla is also developing plans to start producing about 3 000 Model 3s per week in Shanghai in the initial phase of its Gigafactory 3 to reduce the impact of tariffs.

REUTERS