A large number of Chinese Tesla drivers are suffering from buyers’ remorse. For starters, their cars are being delivered months after the promised date and after sales service has been spotty. The biggest problem, however, is that most of them are suffering from what’s known as “range anxiety”. Due to the scarcity of charging stations in China, most drivers are too afraid to run out of electricity to venture far from their homes.
The Chinese market once looked very promising to Tesla, however, there are certain aspects of the company’s car that are currently incompatible with Chinese consumers. For starters, wealthy Chinese like being chauffeured, yet the standard Model S offers a back seat with bench like configuration that screams anything but luxury. Additionally, some apps that are widely used by the Chinese consumer, such as QQ music and Xiami aren’t loaded into the car’s operating system and the navigation map is unpopular and not the widely used ones from companies like Baidu or Gaode.
Despite all the difficulties Tesla is facing, the company is slowly adapting to the demands of the Chinese consumer. Based on customer feedback, Tesla introduced “executive rear seats” as a $2,000 option. Leather-wrapped, they include two zone heaters; passengers also can use a smartphone to control media, climate and panoramic roof settings. Tesla is also recognizing the need to offer its Chinese customers the apps they have gotten used to using every day. “There are some features that we don’t have in China yet, but they’re coming,”
Dan Hsu, the manager of Tesla’s China training program, a Shanghai store and one other said. “That’s one of the great things about our platform, is that it’s all available via software upgrades. We want to innovate as fast as possible.”
In the short term, Tesla’s biggest challenge is persuading potential customers they needn’t fear running out of electricity between charges — an understandable concern in a nation where traffic jams can last hours in big cites. To affress that concern Tesla is offering Chinese buyers the home wall-charging unit for free and starting this year Tesla is paying for the installation, too. In another effort to ease range anxiety, Tesla is handing out mobile connectors that allow drivers to use any outlet. “It’s a really slow charge, but it’s just an ease of mind kind of thing to keep with them,” Hsu said. “If they need to, they can find a plug anywhere and plug in and get a charge.”
Like every technology that was ever introduced in every country, Tesla vehicles have yet to fully adapt to the Chinese market and vice versa. In the long run, however, Chinese consumers and local governments will be unable to ignore how Tesla car’s can help China solve it’s air pollution problems. Additionally, Tesla’s cars offer drivers independence from the very volatile oil markets.
Image 2: http://www.myteslablog.com/2014/10/first-picture-of-new-tesla-model-s-seats.html