Tesla Goes Wireless in China

Tesla China

Electric car company, Tesla Motors, has gone wireless in China after signing a deal that will build over 400 of the company’s charging stations in the Asian country. The deal between the Palo Alto car company and wireless carrier, China Unicom, was announced on Friday.

The deal will put 20 Tesla Supercharger stations at China Unicom retail outlets and 400 charging stations across the country in 120 cities. China Unicom provides the in-car cellular connection through the wireless company’s 3G network already, making the connection between the two companies stronger.

The expansion deal will bring the total of charging stations to 600 and 33 Superchargers, opening up more of China’s roads to longer distance travel in Tesla electric cars. The deal is important to China to enforce tha an electric car option is a viable choice over internal combustion engine powered cars. In 2013, China residents bought 22 million automobiles, which is over a quarter of the entire global market. With the large number of cars crowding the streets of major population centers, like Beijing, are suffering from pollution. The belief is that replacing normal petroleum-based automobiles with electric cars will greatly reduce the air pollution. China has been encouraging electric transportation options, and the deal going through between the wireless company and Tesla will assist to further that push.

After the announcement, word came from a Chinese state agency that the country would halt sales tax charges on electric car sales. This will help the electric car prices appear attractive to potential buyers, adding to the savings already in place from government rebates. Word came from a Chinese electric car company that China is looking into a potential tax on gasoline to assist with funding additional charging stations. According to Wang Chuanfu, chairman of Chinese carmaker BYD, the government may not be able to force people to buy an electric car. However, construction of electric car charging stations can be government mandate.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that, in an effort to boost sales in China, several hundreds of million dollars will be spent on the electric car infrastructure. Already, Musk’s car company had built an impressive network of charging stations in both Europe and the United States.

Musk believes that Chinese sales of the Model S will be roughly 5,000 cars. Musk, along with Deepak Ahuja, Chief Financial Officer, informed shareholders that the Model S is off to a good start in the Asian country. However, at that time Tesla was only offering the cars for sale in areas where customers could be assured of service and charging stations. This deal will allow Musk’s company to offer cars for sale in additional areas.

According to Tesla China, the Superchargers, and charging stations going in at the wireless provider’s retail locations will only be available for vehicles for the Model S, the older Roadster and the upcoming Model X. Vehicles coming to China, like the BMW i3 and i8, a hybrid sports car that also plugs in, and the joint car from Daimler and BYD called the Denza will not be able to utilize the Tesla specific charging locations, calling for more charging locations to be installed by other automobile manufacturers, to meet the potential demand anticipated.

By Carl Auer

San Jose Mercury News
CBC News
Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

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