Nearly three weeks after reports emerged of the first Tesla Model S delivery to a mainland Chinese customer who forked out serious cash to have the car expedited from Hong Kong, Telsa Motors Inc. (Nasdaq:TSLA) has opened its Beijing dealership -- albeit any orders aren’t likely to be filled until well into 2014.
Quoting a product specialist on the ground, China Daily reports the Model S in China will cost between $146,000 for the base model and just under $200,000 for the fully optioned Performance Plus model. In the U.S., the price ranges between $71,000 and $120,000; in Europe, it’s between $98,000 and $162,000.
In July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the Chinese market the “wild card” of the company’s global expansion goals. The Chinese government has been trying to promote electric vehicle use to combat urban pollution and reduce gasoline consumption, but whether there’s a market for EV luxury is far less certain in China, where EVs are generally associated with public transport and taxis.
Located in the Parkview Green Mall, in one of Beijing’s ritzier districts, Tesla’s only official Web presence on the mainland still lacks any interface for making reservations or appointments, possibly because Tesla is still securing import and selling licenses. The company had said that would take at least to the end of the year. But, as of Saturday, mall shoppers can at least kick the tires and play with the 17-inch dashboard touch screen in the showroom’s two-display models.
Foreign cars, especially imports, in China typically cost more than they do in other countries, thanks to a bevy of levies, including steep import and sales taxes. Part of the difference in price is what’s being offered in Asia. The base model isn’t an option at Tesla’s Hong Kong dealership, where customers get to choose between the premium Performance and Signature Model S sedans.
Customers in China will also have to provide a formidable deposit of about $40,000, the same as what the Hong Kong dealership is requiring for its Signature model, which has a number of added options and color choices. In the U.S., the deposit for any Model S purchase is $2,500; in Europe, it’s about the same, at $2,700.