Tesla Drives into Chinese Market

Repost from San Francisco Business Times  http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/print-edition/2013/10/18/tesla-drives-into-chinese-market.html

By Josh Cain  Oct 18, 2013

The news has been good for Elon Musk and his Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors in 2013: soaring stock prices, a $20 billion valuation and an unexpected profit.

And in spite of the viral video of a Model S sedan going up in flames on a Seattle freeway that sent the company’s stock on a brief tumble in early October, Tesla has continued that roll right into its launch in the largest automobile market in the world: China.

Later this year, the company will open its first showroom in the country in Beijing, an 8,000-square-foot facility housed in China’s first LEED Platinum certified building.

As car sales have declined in the U.S. and Europe, China’s market has expanded, with about 19 million vehicles sold last year. Other American manufacturers likeFord Motor Co. and General Motors have successfully marketed to China’s wealthy elites, posting year-over-year gains in the country. Tesla, which declined to comment for this story, is hoping to find a similar demand among Chinese buyers for a luxury vehicle that happens to be electric.

Tesla could be at the perfect nexus for China’s wealthy consumers, said Darlene Chiu Bryant, director of ChinaSF in San Francisco. Such customers can drive Teslas to show off their wealth while displaying concern for the country’s pervasive pollution problem.

For years, the government has tried to tackle pollution, offering incentives to individual consumers to buy domestic electric vehicles. Cities like Hong Kong, where Tesla has seen huge demand, already have more than 1,000 charging stations but few vehicles to patronize them.

“In China, everything starts top-down,” Bryant said. “The government says ‘This is the policy,’ and then it trickles down. You have a lot of wealthier individuals now, they’re educated overseas and they realize just like us that they need to protect the environment.”

Photo from Tesla China Wechat