23 March 2019
Tesla has many fans in China
Tesla has many fans in China

Tesla sensation draws fans and critics in China

Almost every morning, about a dozen prospective buyers gather outside Tesla’s Beijing store, taking pictures and peering through the showroom’s glass window, as they wait for it to open.

Tesla has lots of fans in China, including Xiaomi’s Lei Jun {雷軍}, Lenovo’s Yang Yuanqing {楊元慶}, and Tencent’s Pony Ma {馬化騰}.

These IT titans have all paid generous compliments to the e-carmaker on several public occasions that greatly enhanced Tesla’s brand recognition and popularity in the country, The Economic Observer reports.

Lei Jun calls himself the No. 1 fan of Tesla in China — not only did he pay two visits to Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California, last year, he also ordered two Model S sedans before Tesla announced its pricing strategy in China.

Stock speculators may not be as keen about Tesla cars, but many look to rake in some quick money from the Tesla trading theme.

Although there is no confirmed news as to the US firm’s localization plan or business partner in China, several counters have surged by a noticeable margin on the back of nothing but just hearsay.

From automakers to battery producers and auto trading firms, the list keeps growing. Those that have been tipped as potential beneficiaries include Beiqi Foton Motor (600166.CN), Sinomach Automobile (600335.CN), China BAK Battery (CBAK.US) and Zhejiang Material Industrial Zhongda Yuantong Group (600704.CN).

Also fueling the rumor mill, the new Tesla China chief executive Veronica Wu {吳碧瑄} is said to have talked to Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC, 600418.CN) and Ningbo Shanshan Co. Ltd. (600884.CN), the latter is a well-known garment brand in China and has made substantial investment in lithium battery technologies.

While there are Tesla fanatics, there are also critics.

Some remain skeptical of Tesla’s technologies that use laptop computer batteries to power a car.

Yang Yusheng {楊裕生}, a senior fellow of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told Tencent Auto that Tesla mainly uses NCR lithium battery modules originally designed by Panasonic for laptops; a Model S has 7,000 such batteries and therefore may be vulnerable to potential fire and explosion.

With total sales of around 20,000 units worldwide, the carmaker has had four such accidents in the past four months according to various media reports. Yang also is concerned that since China has yet to promulgate its own detailed compulsory safety certification for imported electric cars, Tesla may adopt a lower safety standard for marques to be sold to China.

Zhong Faping {鍾發平}, president of Corun New Energy Co. Ltd. (600478.CN), one of the largest batteries and nickel products manufacturers in China, was quoted as saying at this year’s National People’s Congress that at a time when there hasn’t been any technical breakthrough in lithium batteries to address performance and safety drawbacks, Tesla and other pure e-car buyers may have to face certain risks. Hybrid models, he believes, are a more viable option.

Zhong also raised questions on how the battery management system on Model S can simultaneously monitor the condition of a cluster of 7,000 batteries.

BYD (01211.HK) chief Wang Chuanfu {王傳福} has also sent out a tart warning — Tesla aims to ratchet up sales, but it lacks experience in mass production and marketing.

– Contact the writer at [email protected] 



EJ Insight writer

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