Tesla (TSLA) has announced that it will begin sales in China — kicking off the luxury car sales with a personal visit from billionaire founder Elon Musk.
China has the potential to become the biggest market for Tesla, with sales that could match US sales by next year, Musk has previously said.
“We’re going to be doing our first customer deliveries later this month. Elon is going to be doing that personally,” Simon Sproule, Tesla’s vice president of marketing and communications, told Bloomberg Television yesterday. “It’s got huge potential.”
The efforts — as Tesla also expands in Europe — are part of a goal to boost production of the Model S sedan by some 56% this year.
There is no exact date on when the China deliveries would happen.
The company’s China entry is being watched closely by other carmakers that have tried to convince local consumers to buy electric cars. The nation lags behind its target to have 5 million alternative energy-powered vehicles by 2020, due to a lack of charging stations and high costs, even as public concerns over worsening air pollution are mounting.
…Tesla should draw “positive commentary on the order book in China, with initial China deliveries this month leading to a media buzz,” Brian Johnson, a New York-based equity analyst at Barclays Plc, said in a research report this week. He rates the company equal weight, or neutral.
Meanwhile in the US, Tesla has faced issues with direct sales stores in a number of states — with New Jersey recently passing legislation that would ban the electric car maker from selling directly to customers.
TSLA stock is up 44% year to date.