The US premium electric car maker, Tesla Motors, has started offering its popular Model S sedans in China through its recently-launched Chinese-language website. However, as our reporter Tang Bo found out, the company may still have trouble gaining traction in China.
Tesla launched its Chinese-language website at the end of December, hoping to attract new orders from mainland buyers. It follows the opening of Tesla’s showroom in Beijing last month. And industry experts think it could be just the beginning of Tesla’s drive into the Chinese market. "
As an innovative company, Tesla has a promising future in China due to an increasing demand of luxury cars in China. And support facilities for electric cars, such as charging stations, have been built or are in the process of being built in many first and second tier cities across the country." Luo Lei, Vice Secretary General of China Automobile Dealers Assc. said. Tesla has established itself as one of the leaders in the electric car industry, designing, manufacturing and selling vehicles and powertrain components. It aims to mass-produce fully electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer. But there are some hurdles the company still has to overcome in China.
One of the major problems is that Tesla does not have a name in Chinese -- a rare omission for a global brand trying to enter the country. It’s also not yet clear what the government tax rate will be for their vehicles, meaning even interested buyers can’t know the full price tag for a Tesla car. As a result, some are questioning if the company is taking the right road to integrate itself in the Chinese market.
"Tesla’s marketing is based on e-commerce and direct sales. By comparison, traditional carmakers enter foreign markets only after all the preparatory work is done. Instead, Tesla is entering a foreign market first and then developing and adjusting its business strategy according to the local market situation." Luo Lei said. The Tesla showroom in Beijing has opened, and its Chinese website is now available. But so far there are no marketing and public relation teams for Tesla Beijing, so it remains something of a mystery.
Experts believe with a growing appetite for luxury cars in China, and the government’s push for clean-running electric cars, Tesla has a big chance to cash in this year in the world’s second largest economy.