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Tesla Motors says it has now taken 373,000 deposits on the unreleased Model 3, though about 8000 customers have already cancelled their refundable orders, while a further 4200 were axed because they appeared to be speculator-driven duplicates.

The latest order count was announced at the same time that the company announced the intended sale of $1.4 billion in additional stock ($A2b) to help pay for the necessary, rapid expansion of its production arm — potentially including a new Chinese plant, according to some reports.

The US-based company delivered 15,000 Model S and Model X cars in the first quarter of 2016, but by 2018, once the Model 3 is on stream, it expects to be producing 500,000 units annually — a target that has attracted scepticism.

Tesla is looking at a sharp rise in spending to accelerate its growth in areas of production, ramping up its Nevada Gigafactory that makes batteries, its Supercharger network and global sales/service operations. As well as the latest rollout of stock, this will be part-funded by the influx of $US1000 deposits it holds.

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Meanwhile, Tesla is also understood to be considering a Chinese plant to cater for demand in that market, and potentially beyond. Chinese customers make up the second-largest bank of Model 3 pre-orders after the US, and the country is a major EV market.

Speaking last week at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Tesla CTO JB Straubel said that it would make sense for the car maker to build a factory in China when local demand reached “critical mass,” according to China Daily.

As noted by Fortune, Straubel’s comments followed similar statements from Tesla president of global sales and service, John McNeill. Last year, founder Elon Musk also suggested that a Chinese Tesla factory could happen around 2019. And there are some reports that Tesla has already scouted factory locations there.

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