Elon Musk has opened his mouth to reveal a newsworthy, but perhaps hard to believe, statement yet again. In this case, the Tesla Motors CEO revealed in an interview with the state-run news agency Xinhua that Tesla could begin manufacturing its electric cars in the country within only 3 years.
Despite recent disappointments with regard to Tesla’s sales figures in China, Musk is apparently dead set on conquering the very large market. It should be noted here that if the company does end up localizing production in China, that that’ll make it eligible to receive significant government incentives there.
“We have a strong long-term commitment to China, and we intend to establish both local production and local engineering in China,” Musk noted.
Despite Musk’s candid comments about “within 3 years,” I admit to being fairly skeptical on this subject — maybe he means that, within 3 years, work to localize production could begin? And, as always with Tesla and Elon Musk, it should be remembered that deadlines aren’t often met…. Musk himself noted in this 2008 interview that, “The people that know me know that, I may be a little optimistic on schedules, but I always deliver.”
So, the takeaway here, imo, is that… we’ll see. 🙂
EV Obsession provides more information on the recent interview (and Musk’s comments):
As for Tesla’s sales troubles in China, Musk blames “scalpers” who placed orders for multiple cars thinking they could flip them for even more money based on limited demand. But when that demand didn’t materialize like Musk and the scalpers anticipated, Tesla was left with lots of cancelled orders for already-built cars. That would be one of the drawbacks of Tesla’s built-to-order model, I suppose.
However, the Tesla CEO went on to say he was “quite optimistic” about Tesla’s sales prospects in China, and that eventually, both it and Europe would get localized production centers of their own. Before the automaker can do that though, Musk admits that it must “boost the confidence” of consumers in China.
While I think that Tesla’s prospects in China are probably pretty good, I do have some doubts about the company’s ability to meet Musk’s goals in that regard. Chinese culture is in many ways very insular, though this is less the case amongst the wealthy, who value status symbols from elsewhere in the world, such as cars… so it’s hard to say what the eventual ceiling to Tesla’s sales in China is. Certainly, there’s room for substantial growth, but I wouldn’t make any bets more definite than that.
Image Credit: Tesla Motors
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.