Two months ago, I revised Tesla’s sales outlook for China from “mei wen ti” (no problem) to “da wen ti” (big problem,) declaring the automaker’s chances to hit the 5,000 unit sales target as next to nil. This was based on the simple observation that as long as a.) Tesla only sells its battery-operated cars in cities where there is a Tesla service station, and as long as b.) there are only two of those in mainland China, that fabled 1.3 billion Chinese market shrinks to the size of Ukraine. Tesla seems to agree, and will open a few more outlets in the Middle Kingdom.
This, mind you, is not an official announcement. Tesla remains as buttoned-up as usual, about its mundane plans. China’s premiere car specialist, Tycho de Feijter, sourced the information from a place that says a lot about future plans: From help wanted ads. In Tesla’s Linkedin job pages, Tycho found that Tesla is looking for staff for still-unannounced stores in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chengdu. Along with two existing sites in Beijing and Shanghai, and a planned one in Hangzou, this would bring the number to six.
Tycho says the choice of cities “makes sense,” but he has issues with Tesla’s focus on China’s South: “Missing however is the entire north and north east with wealthy coal and trade cities, such as Xi’an or Dalian. Tesla buyers there will have to travel to Beijing.” Where, if Tesla’s policy is observed, they won’t be sold a car, the minute they reveal that they are from the provinces.
Tycho also checked on Tesla’s ballyhooed suoercharger network and found
“the picture slightly confusing with one large station in Beijing and two large stations in Shanghai. Next to those the company is operating fifteen smaller stations in cooperation with shopping malls or restaurants. The stations have only one or two super chargers and are located in: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jinan, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Xuzhou, Wuhan, and Shangrao.”