Tesla Motors Inc. expects to start selling its Model X sport utility vehicle in China in the first half of next year after first introducing it in the U.S. this quarter.
The electric-car manufacturer is also opening five to six new showrooms by the end of this year, bringing the total number in China to about 15, Gary Tao, a Beijing-based spokesman for Tesla, said by phone. The new outlets will be located in the center of cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to raise Tesla’s visibility, Tao said.
Tesla’s new SUV may help it boost sales in China, where such vehicles remain the fastest-growing segment at a time when demand for automobiles is slowing amid a weak economy and stock market volatility. The company faces challenges in a country where sales of its Model S sedan have been dogged by cancellations and concerns about the ease of charging.
The new Model X will double the company’s sales volume, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said last week. Tesla is counting on the new SUV to reach a goal of selling 55,000 of its all-electric vehicles worldwide this year. The company, which currently sells only the Model S sedan, delivered 21,552 cars in the first half of 2015, or about 40 percent of the company’s overall goal.
To boost its service to Chinese customers, Tesla has appointed more than 20 local workshops to provide service and bodywork repairs, Tao said. Tesla has more than 1,400 destination charging stations in China and is working to boost the number of superchargers, or ultra-fast power points, Tao said.
— With assistance by Alexandra Ho