Tesla to Make Big Investment in Chinese Charging Stations

Apr 23, 2014 04:12 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Tesla confirmed this week that it will invest "hundreds of millions of dollars" building charging outlets in China, which the company believes could become its biggest global market in 2015.

The California-based company plans to compete with automakers like Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and BMW for a piece of China's emerging green vehicle market.

Company CEO Elon Musk said Tesla is aiming to cooperate with China's two biggest power network operators, China Southern Power Grid, and State Grid Corporation of China, in order to build a "sufficient infrastructure" for Tesla drivers, according to Reuters.

"My instructions to the team are to spend money as fast as they can spend it without wasting it," CEO Musk said to reporters in Beijing, according to Reuters. "In dollar terms I think over time we'll probably end up investing hundreds of millions of dollars in charging infrastructure in China."

Charging stations could be manufactured independently if needed, according to Musk.

Tesla's Model S EV has been priced for 734,000 yuan ($118,000), which is much lower than anticipated but still 50 percent more expensive than it is sold for in the U.S.

Musk doesn't think Tesla is ready to make cars in China yet however, saying it won't happen within the next three of four years, according to Reuters.

"I think we sort of want to hit puberty before we start dating," Musk said.

Tesla started taking orders for its Model S sedan in China last year, and it has started delivering them in places like Shanghai and Beijing.

At least 23 customers outside the two cities were complaining that they hadn't received delivery notices yet, despite being among the first buyers.

Musk apologized personally to some of the disappointed buyers, and said to them that the delay was due to a lack of service outlets or charging stations in their areas.

"If there is no service center within a long distance from someone's house and we haven't resolved any charging question marks then there's a high risk that they will not have a good experience," said Musk.

Tesla opened its flagship store in Beijing late last year. It plans to open another 10 to 12 Chinese cities by the end of 2014.

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