Tesla Teams With China Unicom to Build New Charging Outlets

Aug 29, 2014 05:34 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Telsa has announced that it will partner with China's No. 2 mobile carrier China Unicom to build charging outlets across the country to increase sales in the world's largest auto market.

The companies have signed a deal already to build charging posts at 400 China Unicom stores in approximately 120 cities, according to Reuters.

They will also set up super-charging outlets in 20 Chinese cities, said Tesla's China spokeswoman Peggy Yang.

Tesla's co-founder Elon Musk said he expects to invest hundreds of millions of dollars building charging outlets in China as the company hopes to compete more effectively with rivals like Daimler AG and BMW.

"The deal represents our biggest investment so far in charging facilities in China," Yang said in a telephone interview, according to Reuters.

The EV automaker previously reached deals with Chinese property developers like Soho China Ltd and China Yintai Holdings Ltd to make charging outlets, according to Reuters.

Beijing's goal of putting 5 million green vehicles on the road by 2020 has been hurt by the shortage of charging stations. The partnership with Unicom means Tesla can now service customers in most of China.

Tesla started delivering its Model S sedans in Beijing and Shanghai back in April.

Charging service will be for free, but it is only available for Tesla vehicles, according to the Tesla China spokeswoman.

BMW is expected to deliver its electric sedan i3 and plug-in hybrid i8 sports vehicle sometime next month, while Daimler will launch premium electric vehicle Denza before the end of the year with Chinese automaker BYD Co. LTD.

The Palo Alto, California-based company can't make cars in China currently unless it forms a joint venture with a local car company.

Tesla makes vehicles in a production plant in the San Francisco suburb of Fremont which once manufactured approximately 400,000 vehicles a year for Toyota Motor Corp and General Motors when the plant was owned and operated by the two automakers.

It is still interested in making vehicles in China independently, according to an unidentified Chinese executive, who declined to be identified when speaking to Reuters.

That is unlikely to change anytime soon however unless China changes its current policy.

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