UPDATE 4-Tesla raises prices in US, China, Japan and Canada

(Adds share movement, analyst comment)

By Akriti Sharma

May 1 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc has raised prices in a range of up to $290 in Canada, China, Japan and the United States, its website showed on Monday, after the company slashed prices of its top-selling vehicles since the start of the year.

The hike was the first on its two top-selling models at the same time in multiple markets, although prices across its lineup are much lower than in January, after a round of discounts. Shares rose nearly 2% in early trading.

Last month Chief Executive Elon Musk said the company would prioritize sales growth ahead of margins and look to profit later on its rollout of self-driving software for a larger fleet of vehicles.

Since January, Tesla has shifted to a real-time pricing model that is closer to airlines or ride-sharing from the fixed prices of the traditional auto industry model.

Musk has said the company is willing to sacrifice margin for sales volume but is also looking to move prices back higher, where it can, to match deliveries with output.

By Monday, Tesla’s website showed it had raised the starting price point by $250 on the base model Model Y and Model 3 in the United States.

Prices changed about the same amount in its second largest market of China, as well as in Canada and Japan, those websites showed.

It was the first time since January that Tesla has increased the price of its cheapest car, the Model 3, in the United States.

The entry-level, rear-wheel-drive Model 3 is still about 14% cheaper in the United States than at the start of the year. The long-range version of the Model Y remains about 24% cheaper in Tesla’s largest market.

Several analysts said the move reflected Tesla’s dynamic pricing strategy and was unlikely to undo the significant price cuts that sent the company’s gross margins to a two-year low in the first quarter.

“This doesn’t change much for the company. We would need to see several price increases for this to be an effective reversal (of the price cuts),” said Craig Irwin, analyst at Roth Capital.

In Canada, Tesla raised prices by C$300 ($222) for the performance versions of its Model 3 and Model Y. In Japan, prices for the entry-level Model 3 rose 37,000 yen ($269).

In China, Tesla raised the price of variants by 2,000 yuan ($289), the website showed.

Tesla started cutting sticker prices in China last year, kicking off a price war in the world’s largest market where it takes on a range of domestic electric car brands led by BYD Co Ltd.

($1=6.9110 Chinese yuan renminbi)

($1=137.5400 yen)

($1=0.9102 euros)

($1=C$1.3532) (Reporting by Akriti Sharma and Samrhitha Arunasalam in Bengaluru; Writing by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Clarence Fernandez and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)