Tesla Remedying Sales, Range Anxiety Woes In China

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Tesla hasn’t had the best time in China as of late, a situation the automaker is looking to remedy as quickly as possible.

Bloomberg reports Tesla’s Q4 2014 sales were “unexpectedly weak,” according to CEO Elon Musk. Musk went on to place the blame on the Chinese market sales force, who he deemed not only inept, but discouraged would-be owners by warning of the difficulties of charging electric vehicles in China. Speculators who ordered — but never purchased — vehicles, range anxiety among consumers, and Tesla’s misreading of the market also contributed to the automaker’s woes in the market.

Since then, Tesla has made some strides into rectifying the situation. In one example, new “executive rear seats” — a $2,000 option wrapped in leather and equipped with two zone heaters — were made available as a result of learning that rich Chinese customers prefer to be chauffeured over taking the wheel themselves. The option arrived as quick as it had due to the automaker’s direct-sales model, according to China sales training chief Dan Hsu.

Other actions meant to bolster Tesla’s standing in the market include: lobbying cities to order vehicles, then adding them to programs meant to bring consumers into EVs and PHEVs, side-stepping the lottery/auction process prevalent in China; providing and installing home-charging systems in consumer’s homes for free; introducing more “destination chargers” alongside its Supercharger network — over 1,000 are online so far; and mobile charging connectors for the times when an owner needs to charge no matter where they are.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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7 of 9 comments
  • I sold my shares (automatically) with a stop loss order on Scottrade. I'm done with TESLA. I hope Apple buys them out.

  • TrailerTrash TrailerTrash on Mar 30, 2015

    Another week...so yet another story on a car company that sells 1000 cars a month.stunning.

  • Scwmcan Scwmcan on Mar 30, 2015

    So as I read it, tesla entered the Chinese market without realizing that the people rich enough to buy the car would want to be chauffeured despite the fact that every other manufacturer offeres longer wheelbase cars because the richer Chinese prefer to be chauffeured. Pretty poor market research by Tesla in this case.

  • Wmba Wmba on Mar 30, 2015

    Has Tesla managed to install the Chinese version of Google in the car yet? Google and its maps aren't legal in China. They still don't have a JV partner in China, so are not favored by the government. Rich Chinese don't want to wait months for their custom order, which could be solved by assembling in China with a JV and giving the car a Chinese name. Why does anyone think there are 2300 of these things unsold? Not custom enough for customer differentiation, just an off the peg standard car - no fun in that for a rich man. Now the brattish loud-mouthed Musk is going to hector various levels of government to install home chargers and mini-Superchargers because HE said so? Good luck with that. A business disaster waiting to happen. Imagine some Chinese manufacturer lobbying US federal state and local governments for special infrastructure deals in order to facilitate the sale of a foreign product. The collective American blood pressure would rise all the way to the mental defectives posing as commentators on TV. Well, the Chinese seem more polite - they just pay no attention to all the yapping.

    • See 1 previous
    • 360joules 360joules on Mar 30, 2015

      @WheelMcCoy Everything you said makes sense if you don't know China. Musk's minions tried to do it without a Chinese joint venture partner (to secure national & regional government protection), failed to secure patents and trademarks early, failed to play the local government game, and most importantly: failed to enter with back seat luxury. The Chinese are intolerant enough of their home-grown dispruptors, let alone a foreign disruptor.