BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Tesla Inc <TSLA.O> said on Monday it would start exporting China-made Model 3 cars to more than 10 European countries this month, joining a growing number of automakers using China as an export hub for electric vehicles.

The U.S. carmaker, which started delivering vehicles made in its Shanghai factory in December, will export China-made cars this month to countries including Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland, it said in a statement.

Elsewhere, German rival BMW <BMWG.DE> is preparing to export its electric iX3 model, made at a joint venture plant in Shenyang, China, to Europe, while Daimler <DAIGn.DE> is shifting production of its Smart branded city cars to Hangzhou Bay.

Tesla has been expanding in China even as tensions between Washington and Beijing have been escalating. The Shanghai factory, Tesla’s first car plant outside of the United States, aims to build 150,000 vehicles this year.

“Support from Chinese government towards the industry, innovative local companies and customers embracing new technologies make China the best market for smart electric vehicles,” Tesla said, adding it would expand car production, charging and sales networks in China.

The electric vehicle maker, which sold more than 11,000 Model 3 cars last month in China, the world’s biggest auto market, is also building new car manufacturing capacity in Shanghai to make its Model Y sport-utility vehicles.

Reuters reported in September that Tesla was planning to export Model 3 vehicles made in China to Asian and European markets, citing people familiar with the matter.

The export of the Model 3 to Europe comes as Tesla is in the process of building a German factory on the outskirts of Berlin and after the German government announced a subsidy of up to 9,000 euros for buyers of electric cars, including the Model 3.

(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Mark Potter)

FILE PHOTO: Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles are seen during a delivery event at its factory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/