Business / Auto China

Tesla prizes China market despite hurdles

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-01-25 11:02

Tesla prizes China market despite hurdles

A Tesla model S car is displayed in Beijing experience store on Nov 4, 2013. [Wu Changqing/Asianewsphoto] 

BEIJING - US electric vehicle maker Tesla made its debut in China this week amid applause over its lower-than-expected price tag, but consumers are still concerned about issues such as battery charging.

The company plans to have showrooms and maintenance centers open in more major cities in East China this year as part of its outreach to consumers in the world's largest auto market, Veronica Wu, Tesla's vice president, told Xinhua on Friday.

She also said CEO Elon Musk wants to double Tesla's auto production this year and sees China as a key driver of its global auto sales growth.

Despite these ambitions, its efforts to build a strong presence in China face many hurdles.

Wu said pre-orders of its Model S in China have been dynamic in the past few months, but prospective car buyers in China are still resistant to the idea of driving a purely electric vehicle, mostly out of concern that it is hard to find places to recharge the car.

At Tesla's Beijing showroom - the first and so far only one in China's mainland - Xinhua reporters found customers gathering around the company's popular Model S, with some venturing inside to try driving an electric vehicle.

A sales representative at the showroom said people who check out the Model S come with a broad range of questions, but the most frequently asked is where to charge the car, especially when running long-distance trips.

Tesla has said it will build free-to-use charging stations along expressways linking Beijing and Shanghai. The Model S can run up to 500 km after an hour of charging at one of these stations.

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