UPDATE 1-Tesla begins deliveries of China-made Model 3 cars

Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh

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SHANGHAI, Dec 30 (Reuters) - U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc on Monday began delivering Model 3 vehicles built at its Shanghai factory, marking the occasion with a ceremony during which 15 of its employees received cars they had purchased.

The event means the plant has started delivering cars to customers just 357 days after the factory's construction started, setting a new record for global automakers in China.

The China-made cars are priced at 355,800 yuan ($50,000) before subsidies and Tesla had said it wanted to start deliveries before the Lunar New Year beginning on Jan. 25.

The Shanghai plant is part of the Silicon Valley automaker's plans to bolster its presence in the world's biggest auto market and minimise the impact of the U.S.-China trade war. Previously, Tesla imported all of the cars it sold in China.

"From now onwards China-made Model 3 vehicles will start running on China's large streets and small lanes," Tesla Vice President Tao Lin said at the delivery ceremony, during which Model 3s in colours including black, white and blue were handed over to customers. (Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christopher Cushing)