The car company Tesla positions itself to sell to mass consumers in the U.S. and China with new innovations, more supercharging stations and proper licensing in China. The moves put the cars in a better position for more sales, although experts state it will still be the rich who will be the primary buyers.
Tesla Motors Inc. started delivering its car to China last year with expectations that the electric vehicle would easily win over the hearts and minds of Chinese drivers. That did not happen. While there are many speculating to all the reasons for a lack of sales that put the car company in a deficit, the primary reason is that not everyone is allowed to own cars. The Chinese government limits the number of cars people own in an attempt to reduce pollution. The Tesla is not a contributor to pollution and would have been considered exempt from such rules except that the company did not get proper permitting for the exception.
The car company needed to go to every city and local government to get exemptions because it is local governments which decide which vehicles qualify for new energy vehicle subsidies. Getting a local exemption means those wanting to buy a Tesla would not have to participate in the local lotteries used to determine who gets to buy a vehicle. It was standard for these local governments to give subsidies only to manufacturers from their regions, but the Chinese government did not give Tesla any subsidies either.
Since Tesla has been working to get its vehicles qualified for exemption, the city of Tianjin placed Tesla on its selected vehicle list. The car also qualifies in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Tesla is still wants Beijing on the permitting list because that is the biggest market in China.
The car company is hoping to increase its presence in the United States, and relieve some fears about electric cars running out of juice, by adding a network of supercharger stations. So far, the company has 438 supercharger stations and 2,415 superchargers globally. The car company wants more than 800 charging stations across the world and is working with Costco stores and hotels like the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt and Westin to install the charging stations.
With adding more stations to its refueling infrastructure, the company hopes to convince consumers its electric cars are the most logical choice. The drive is to establish so many charging stations that motorists can fuel up anywhere at no cost. A lack of recharging ability was one of the reasons cited for lagging sales in China also. Most Chinese consumers do not have garages or other facilities suitable for charging a car.
The car company also is working on creating a self-driving car and, so far, the prototype is working in test runs inside the Bosch research lab. While a completely self-driving car will not be on the market for some time, the car company is adding some self-driving features to the Model S this summer. The 50 new components are part of a software upgrade and include a front video camera, laser scanners for complete views around the car and six radar sensors facing both front and back.
It is uncertain whether Bosch will be exclusive to Tesla or whether the company will license its research to multiple car manufacturers. An upgrade to the Model S would be cost an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 for the features. So, although Tesla is positioning itself to sell to mass consumers in the U.S. and China, it will steal only be a car the rich can afford.
By Melody Dareing
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