Tesla has cleared the final regulatory hurdle to selling the Model 3 in Europe, allowing the electric carmaker to begin shipping the vehicles to Europe. Reuters reports that RDW, the automotive regulatory authority in the Netherlands, has signed off on the Model 3. Under EU rules, regulatory approval in one country allows Tesla to sell its cars across the EU territory.
EU law requires an automaker to get “type approval” for each vehicle it wants to sell in the European Union. Tesla shipped several production Model 3s to RDW, which put them through a battery of tests. They checked that the vehicles met all the requirements of EU law: brake performance, lights, crashworthiness, emissions, and so forth.
The approval comes just in time. A Belgian news site reports that Tesla is expected to ship as many as 3,000 cars a week to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge for subsequent distribution across the continent.
Tesla’s European push will be crucial for shoring up the company’s still-fragile finances. Tesla enjoyed healthy profits in the third quarter of 2018 due in large part to pent-up demand for the Model 3. Strong demand allowed Tesla to produce the highest-priced Model 3s first, yielding generous profit margins. But in a recent email to employees, CEO Elon Musk warned that “our products are still too expensive for most people.” Currently, the most affordable Tesla model costs $44,000. Musk argued that Tesla would need to bring down costs if it wanted to continue selling the Model 3 in large numbers.
But expanding to Europe will give Tesla some breathing room here. There are tens of thousands of European customers waiting to get their hands on a Model 3, and some of them will be willing to pay a premium for a high-end model. That will give Tesla a few more months to work on driving down costs enough to finally offer the $35,000 Model 3 that Musk has been promising since he unveiled the vehicle back in 2016.