Electric car maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has quietly started taking pre-orders for its Model S sedan in China. Tesla China general manager Kingston Chang announced this on his personal Sina Weibo page late last night (here), and now an official Tesla brand page has popped up on Weibo today, but it hasn’t yet posted any further details.
Chinese business news site Caijing says today that the automaker will keep its direct sales tradition in China and won’t seek cooperation with any dealers. The Model S is priced between $70,000 and $100,000 in the US, but China’s steep import taxes will likely push, along with VAT, the sticker price to $100,000 to $140,000.
Tesla has been hiring in China all year, but its mooted flagship store in Beijing that was outlined to open this summer has yet to materialize. It’s also not clear what kind of infrastructure will be in place for Model S owners when their cars eventually hit China’s streets – will there be charging points installed across the more developed parts of China? Another issue is home charging. Even a wealthy Chinese urbanite, the kind who already has a Porsche Panamera, likely lives in a fancy apartment complex, which means he/she doesn’t have a personal garage.
Tesla’s (empty) new home on China’s Sina Weibo.
Tesla’s copyright woes in China
Adding to all that uncertainty and complexity is the fact that Tesla Motors has lost the rights to its English name in China due to a copyright troll who claims he’s using the moniker in his own EV research. As a result, Tesla will go by the name Tuosule in China, which is a close phonetic transcription of ‘Tesla’ in Chinese (the exact name in Chinese is 特斯拉, which should be written out as Te-si-la).
On the plus side, earlier this week the Model S was awarded a five-star safety rating in every single crash testing category by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), making it the safest vehicle it’s ever tested.
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