Tesla Model S Delivery Delays In China Lead To Protests


Tesla Model S Priced at  $121,000 USD in China

Tesla Model S Priced at $121,000 USD in China

It seems that launching an electric vehicle outside of an automaker’s home turf can be rather difficult.  Perhaps the best example of this is in the often-botched launch of the BMW i3 in the US.

But over in China, Tesla had some issues of its own in launching the Model S.

BMW’s poor i3 launch in the US can’t be excused (BMW is accustom to the US market, so we’ve no idea why it was handled so poorly), but Tesla ventured into uncharted waters with the introduction of the Model S in China, so we forgive Tesla for any difficulties experienced throughout the launch process.

One of the least discussed issues that Tesla encountered in China was protesters.  As the Wall Street Journal reported:

“A group of disgruntled Tesla Motors customers in China is protesting delayed deliveries of their cars just as the electric-vehicle maker is making their first Chinese deliveries.”

Deliveries of the Model S are now well underway in China, but prior to Tesla handing over the first set of keys, Tesla reportedly offered some rather unusual excuses for delivery delays.

Per the Wall Street Journal:

“…some once-enthused customers like Sam Long are unhappy with the reason he says Tesla is offering to explain the delivery delays. “The company told me they are still training electricians in Zhuhai,” said Mr. Long, referring to the southern Chinese city where he lives. “I feel my rights have been hurt.”

“Mr. Long, a 37-year-old businessman, said he ordered his Model S last year but that as of Monday (April 21) the Tesla website showed his car has yet to be manufactured. Mr. Long and 22 other consumers who booked Tesla cars have recently hired attorneys to negotiate with Tesla over the delivery…”

Tesla’s vice president of communications, Simon Sproule, offered this statement:

“You would never sell any brand unless you have the tools to service it.”

Those disgruntled Model S buyers are unlikely to receive their vehicles until June or later, but most believed that they were going to receive the first batch of Model S EVs sold in China.

As it turns out, the Tesla Model S is only available in select regions in China, yet it seems Tesla’s website will accept order from areas in which the Model S is not yet available and/or won’t be delivered to a later date.

Sproule says that Tesla is in an “ongoing dialogue” with the disgruntled customers.  However, those customers want “Mr. Musk to give us an explanation,” according to Mr. Long.

As we stated in the opening of this article, launching a vehicle outside of one’s home turf isn’t an easy task.  We’ll lump this one under the category of growing pains, which Tesla will continue to experience as it branches out to additional markets.  No big deal here.  It’s common…and we’re confident Tesla will sort it all out.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Categories: Tesla

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

17 Comments on "Tesla Model S Delivery Delays In China Lead To Protests"

newest oldest most voted

Launching inside one’s home turf is easier? Watch the franchise dealers cut into Tesla’s chances of success on its home turf. The way things are going Tesla really needs China as a second “home turf”, because robbed from a suitable retail model I can’t see it become very successful in the US.

“I feel my rights have been hurt.”

And I thought millennials were spoiled! Its only 2-3 months delay, which isn’t that big of a deal.

Didn’t Tesla fire their China VP a few months ago? I guess we see why now – they weren’t thinking steps ahead to make sure everything was ready for the roll out.


remember the Dirty Harry episode where Harry chases the bad guy onto the football field after shooting him in the leg.

Harry walks up to wounded bad guy.

Bad guy (murderer) says: “I have rights”

Harry grinds his foot into the murderer’s wounded leg.

Murderer screams in pain.

Harry says: “I’m all broken up about your rights”

And that’s why the car should have been priced much higher, just like German luxury cars in China. The people getting these cars in China are so not price-sensitive, they want their stuff and they want it now, otherwise they will sue you. I hope the only reason that Elon doesn’t charge premium is some backstage deal where Tesla was allowed to use its name (hope you guys remember that one) because that thing got solved super-fast.

Reminds me of a Simpson’s episode “Bart To The Future” where an adult hippie version of Bart has to smooth over international relations to help Lisa who is President of the USA.


Chinese Man: You pay now! Now! [pounds fist on table]

Bart: What happened to you, China? You used to be cool.

Chinese Man: Hey, China is still cool. You pay later. Later! [pounds fist on table]

Bart: Solid. The rest of you go on home, and look in your mailboxes, cause I totally remember sending checks out.

Why even hire attorneys?

Having a deep understanding of the situation in China, I would just shrug this off as “noise”. One has to realize that the Chinese are used to everything been dirt cheap. For native Chinese growing up in China, they are used to everything being cheap. Only luxury items for the super rich are expensive (and must be so, otherwise, they would not be viewed as luxury items). So when the Chinese buy a condo, a yatch or in this case a Tesla, they expect top notch service – they are expecting the seller to wow them over and meet their every demand. Not the typical attitude of an American Tesla buyer. So when Tesla fails to meet that, they group together and protest. It’s a cultural thing really. Same thing when they invest in condos and the developer later offers a discount. They’d group together and protest noisily. Obviously they don’t protest when chicken rice prices are different at different places. It boils down to “I paid big and I expect to be treated like a big shot”. Campbell Soups failed to understand the Chinese. Sure, they drink soup very often during dinner, so that would mean a big market,… Read more »

So true……..

Dealing with Chinese indignity is a real pain in the “pigu”.

The question is that have they paid full price for the car yet?

If they haven’t, then they got no basis to complain.

If they have, then they have a legit reason to whine.

“I want compensated for being excited about something.”


“Mr. Long and 22 other consumers who booked Tesla cars have recently hired attorneys to negotiate with Tesla over the delivery…”

You have got to be kidding me. China is definitely headed for a collapse.

“Mr. Long and 22 other consumers who booked Tesla cars have recently hired attorneys to negotiate with Tesla over the delivery…”

That’s the American way!

I think the official reason Tesla gave for not delivering the cars yet is quite simple to understand: Tesla doesn’t have the service support yet in those regions.

Given these people are “lawyering up” already, if Tesla just went ahead and delivered and the cars need service that Tesla can’t provide (which is going to be pretty much inevitable for a new market launch) I’m sure these same people won’t hesitate to sue Tesla for selling them a lemon. So Tesla is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

Which it got into all by itself.

In China “face”, as in “saving face”, is hugely important. So let’s say you are a Chinese customer, you order, you believe the date, you tell your friends, spouse, brother, whatever.

Then the date comes, no car. And this from a non-brand that you and you alone trusted because you are a little different, a little greener perhaps, or techier, but few others would.

So to the people around you, you start to look like a trusting fool. This is bad anywhere, but devastating in China. You practically >have< to lawyer up, to save face at least, and to channel some anger at your predicament.

Tesla better friggin' understand this. Otherwise the Tesla story in China will be very short. All these people need their cars ASAP, and a gift on top of that. And if support is harder or costlier because of where they live, then spend the money. And fix the web site to account for regions, to avoid in future.

I guess Tesla didn’t account for the cultural differences. When delays happened in the US and Europe, the people were patient enough to wait (and those who couldn’t got their partial deposits back).

I guess Tesla expected that it would simply be the case of refunding the deposits if people aren’t satisfied, but I guess that won’t be a viable option in this case if they care more about “face” than anything.

As for the date thing, I’m pretty sure the Tesla website and rep) don’t promise a hard date until the cars are actually in production and close to delivery. At the most, the rep will give a rough time-window (that’s always subject to change). In this case it seems to simply be that these people saw the deliveries in Shanghai to people with a later number in line and got angry about that.

Yep, my ex was Chinese, and her family and her family’s friends, etc., operated in that manner in every aspect of their lives. The shame associated with failing to save face is very strong in their culture.

sum ting wong….