Tesla’s May shipments in China started to rebound from April when production was suspended for maintenance-although analysts are watching whether a series of bad publicity will translate into reduced demand in the coming months.
According to data released by the China Passenger Car Association on Tuesday, the electric car pioneer sold 33,463 domestically-made cars last month, compared with 25,845 in April. In May’s data, 11,527 vehicles were exported, compared with 14,174 vehicles shipped overseas (mainly in Europe) last month. The number of cars entering the local market in May alone has soared by 88% compared to April.
Wholesale figures may not directly reflect the level of retail demand in the Tesla field, rather than through traditional dealers. Investors have been worried about the backlash triggered by the high-profile protests at the Shanghai Auto Show in mid-April, and the series of crashes that may cause the public to feel negative about the California-based company. According to data from the technology news website The Information, customer orders in May fell by nearly half compared to April. Last week, Tesla representatives in China declined to comment on the report.
PCA Secretary-General Cui Dongshu said that he expects the local sales of Tesla vehicles to be higher in June.
“Tesla’s sales will hardly be affected by short-term negative effects,” Cui said at a briefing. “It is expected that Model Y will sell more than Model 3, especially in China, where SUVs are more popular than cars,” he said, referring to Tesla’s entry-level cars and more spacious models.
As of 9:53 a.m. New York time, Tesla shares on Tuesday gave up early gains of 3%, up 1.2% to $612.42.
After initially enjoying the dream of being in China-winning the most important government support for opening a factory near Shanghai-Tesla has recently caused unnecessary publicity. In an incident that quickly spread on social media, a disgruntled car owner climbed onto a Tesla show car at the April auto show and yelled that her car’s brakes had failed, causing a crash. This was followed by two accusations from government entities that the electric car manufacturer should respect Chinese consumers and abide by local laws.
China is the key to Musk’s growth ambitions: it is already the world’s largest electric vehicle market, and the government is supporting the industry to help achieve its goal of making the country carbon neutral by 2060. Chinese customers currently need to wait one to three weeks to receive locally manufactured Tesla.
Last month, a traffic policeman was killed in a car accident involving Tesla and another was injured. The Beijing Daily quoted the local police station as saying on Sunday that the car was tested normally and the driver should be fully responsible for the accident. According to the Global Times, in another incident, a Tesla rear-ended a truck, resulting in the death of the electric car driver.
Although hundreds of people die on the roads of China every day, crashes involving Tesla models have aroused strong public attention, and the footage quickly spread on social media.
According to Bloomberg’s report last month, another setback is that some local governments and official agencies are reviewing their employees’ ownership of Tesla, citing concerns that these cars will pose safety risks. Due to concerns about data collection with built-in cameras, electric vehicles have also been banned from entering military installations and residential areas. Tesla has taken steps to appease the authorities, saying that any data collected in China is stored locally.
The data shows that overall, the shipment volume of automobiles, sport utility vehicles and utility vehicles in May increased by 1.1% year-on-year to 1.66 million units. Compared with the previous month, the total wholesale amount increased by 0.8%. New energy vehicle shipments, including electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles, increased by 177% year-on-year to 185,000 units.
Last month, SAIC-GM-Wuling had the highest sales of new energy vehicles, followed by BYD and Tesla in third place. PCA also adjusted its forecast for annual sales of new energy vehicles from 2.2 million to 2.4 million on Tuesday. It pointed out that China’s policy of allowing families to have three children should benefit the auto market, especially the seven-seater auto market.
Read more: Tesla loses executives who played a key role in upgrading Model 3
(Update the opening stock in the sixth paragraph.)
——With the assistance of Hou Haiyang.