FP StaffJan 11, 2023 18:28:42 IST
Hundreds of Tesla owners gathered at the automaker’s showrooms and distribution centres in various Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Xi’an after the EV maker announced heavy discounts across their range on the weekend.
Buyers of the Tesla Model Y and the Model 3 stormed a number of Tesla facilities in Shanghai, protesting the EV maker’s decision to slash prices, without informing them. This is the second time that Tesla had to slash prices in China, in the last three months.
Many said they had believed that prices Tesla charged for its cars late last year would not be cut as abruptly or as deeply as the automaker just announced to spur sales and support production at its Shanghai plant. The scheduled expiration of a government subsidy at the end of 2022 also drove many to finalise their purchases.
After the recently announced discounts, Tesla EV’s prices in China are down by about 24 per cent, compared to what they were in September 2022.
Protesters who bought Teslas stormed a Tesla store in China after price cuts demanding a refund of the price difference.
— Anas Alhajji (@anasalhajji) January 8, 2023
Analysts believe that Tesla reduced the prices of all its EVs in China, to boost its faltering sales, and to force other EV makers to offer similar discounts, and sell their vehicles at a lower profit margin. China happens to be the world’s largest market for battery-powered cars.
“It may be a normal business practice but this is not how a responsible enterprise should behave,” said one Tesla owner protesting at the company’s delivery centre in Shanghai’s Minhang suburb on Saturday who gave his surname as Zhang.
As per a report by Reuters, a crowd of about 200 people gathered outside a Tesla store in the southwestern city of Chengdu, chanting, “Return the money, refund our cars.” Tesla does not plan to compensate buyers who took delivery before the most recent price cut, a spokesman for Tesla China told Reuters on Saturday.
China accounted for about a third of Tesla’s global sales in 2021 and its Shanghai factory, which employs about 20,000 workers, is its single most productive and profitable plant.
Analysts have been positive about the potential for Tesla’s price cuts to drive sales growth at a time when it is a year from announcing its next new vehicle, the Cybertruck.