When Tesla woke up and chose violence

Given how Elon Musk loves to thumb his nose at conventions, maybe it wasn’t that big of a shock how Tesla has chosen to price their vehicles in Malaysia. At RM199,000 for the base Model Y (flagship tops out at RM288,000), Tesla has practically rewritten the rulebook as to how much electric vehicles should cost in this country.

At RM199K, the Model Y disrupts both mainstream and premium EV players in Malaysia.

When you consider that the Model 3 – a mid-sized sedan one rung below the Y in the hierarchy – is set to be even more affordable than its crossover sibling, every car company peddling EVs in Malaysia, from mainstream to premium, is going to have to go back to their respective drawing boards.

For context, a BYD Atto 3 starts at RM149,800, a Hyundai Ioniq 5 from RM207,808 and a BMW iX3 at RM307,160. How much would you pay for an EV if you can get into a Model 3…for the sake of speculation, at RM170K?

While the price hasn’t been revealed, the Model 3 is listed on Tesla’s Malaysia website. One thing’s for sure, it will start lower than RM199K.
The Apple in Tesla
We can debate till the cows come home whether Tesla is a premium automaker in the mould of Mercedes-Benz or BMW, and we can likewise debate whether Tesla products are necessarily superior to those from the competition, but since mass production began in 2012 with the Model S, the brand has cultivated a cult-like following much like that of Apple’s, the fervour of which transcends traditional notions of what’s premium and what’s not.

Tesla has clearly opted not to price the Model Y in Malaysia based on its perceived premium-ness. As an upstart in one of the most cut-throat industries in the world, Tesla cowboy-ed their way to success by not adopting business models of legacy automakers. It eschewed swanky showrooms and sidestepped dealers by selling directly to customers, and investing heavily in infrastructure. More recently in April, Tesla lowered the prices of its vehicles “to enable affordability at scale”, something unheard of from legacy automakers.

The Apple-esque appeal of the Tesla brand coupled with attractive pricing in Malaysia is a potent combination that will take some beating. The saving grace for competitors is that it’ll take some time for Tesla to fulfil these orders as deliveries are only slated for early 2024. But with production running at full steam at its Shanghai Gigafactory, don’t bet against them arriving earlier than promised