Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) opened its first showroom to the public in Beijing in November and, according to ChinaDaily, hundreds of high-end Tesla electric cars have been ordered or preordered in China since. Tesla says it plans on opening more showrooms in the country’s “first-tier cities” in 2014.
The Tesla Model S and Model X also have been available for online order since December 14, and Chinese buyers have jumped at the chance to lay down deposits of 250,000 yuan for the luxury electric vehicles, even though Tesla has yet to establish electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country. And high-profile reports of a few engine fires in Tesla cars in the United States do not seem to have hampered demand in China.
Tesla also has yet to give its brand a Chinese name. The accurate translation for Tesla’s Chinese pronunciation, Te Si La, has been registered since 2006 by a local businessman who refuses to surrender the trademark.
As the big automakers like General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) have learned, local competition is quick to arise in China. The nation’s leading new-energy carmaker, BYD Auto, recently launched a new plug-in hybrid in Beijing. The Qin, as it is called, can go 70 km on a single charge when running in all-electric mode, and the Qin’s battery can be charged at home using common electric power.