The move puts Tesla in the company of General Motors and Volkswagen AG — both of which recently began selling through the online retail giant.
In order to secure one of Tesla’s luxury electric vehicles via Alibaba, you will need to put down a significant deposit (50,000-yuan/$8,200). So, it’s not “too easy.” Convenient though, for sure.
Commenting on the move, Tesla spokeswoman Peggy Yang stated: “Tmall offers us an opportunity to reach out to general customers.”
The move follows pretty closely on Tesla’s entrance to the Chinese market — which occurred just back in April. Given that the Chinese market is the largest automobile market in the world (and on its way to becoming the largest electric car market in the world), Tesla’s move towards the well-established Alibaba represents the company’s desire to grow sales there as fast as possible.
“We know that it’s a big, big challenge for all car manufacturers to penetrate into the huge mainland,” explained Klaus Paur, London-based global head of automotive at researcher Ipsos, in an interview with Bloomberg. “This plays perfectly into their strategy. Tesla came into the market doing things differently.”
Bloomberg provides a bit more information:
A total of 18 pre-configured cars are being offered through the marketplace, meaning consumers can’t choose their trim and other features.
Besides Tesla, Buick, Chevrolet, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and Shanghai Volkswagen also have official sites on Tmall.com. Chevrolet sold 245 cars through the online mall this month, according to its website on the marketplace.
General Motors, which owns the Buick and Chevrolet brands, in August introduced an online Chevrolet dealership platform linking its dealers with Chinese consumers. About 200 distributors are expected to participate in the service by the end of the year, with plans to offer used-car sales and three dimensional vehicle configuration through the platform, the automaker said.
Daimler AG offered 666 units of its two-door Smart car on Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like Weibo service in January 2013.
The strategy certainly seems to make sense from Tesla’s perspective — with such a huge potential market there, why wait for your infrastructure to get built-up first? Chinese consumers seem even more willing than American consumers to buy online, so why not take advantage of that?
While it remains to be seen how effective this approach is, you can at least take it as a good sign (as far as the Chinese market goes) that there aren’t going to be any bills like the one just signed in Michigan passed into law over there.
Image Credit: Tesla Motors
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