Tesla, the manufacturer of premium electric vehicles has achieved a cult status, somewhat similar to Apple about a decade ago before it became the icon of luxury and design. Interestingly, Tesla chose the world’s largest car market: China, to open its showroom. I came across the showroom quite by chance, and as curiosity led me to knowing more about the car, two hosts generously told me everything there was to know about Tesla and even offered to put me on the mailing list (even though I told them I might never be able to afford buying the car).
There are 6 showrooms in Beijing alone I was told. And while China may be the world’s largest car market, it is a tough one to enter as luxury cars like Mercs and BMWs are preferred, often seen as status symbols. So until the time that Tesla becomes a premium brand, it may have to play up its “wild card”.
Here are a few USPs: the car receives a subsidy on import taxes from the government in an effort to minimise pollution, making it cheaper by almost half a million; there is no petrol usage and so no cost of running the vehicle; it comes with a charging dock which is installed at home; once charged, the car runs up to 400kms or more; there are 2 models: the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV crossover; and finally, there is also a supercharger which can charge your car in 20 minutes. So are you sold?
Electric vehicles are a future for us all, not just for China, but the fuel dependent car owners that we are, seem to still value brand over innovation. Until then, Tesla may well enjoy its cult status of being an extraordinary car for ordinary citizens.
Tesla showroom in Beijing
A fleet of sedans with their charging docks
The bonnet is empty – it has no engine; only an AC unit
The skeleton of the car
The unfrivolous charging dock
The flashy red Sedan
And finally, here is the SUV Model X (sorry just couldn’t invert the image)