Tesla owners in China are protesting surprise price cuts they missed out on

Tesla owners in China are protesting surprise price cuts they missed out on

Tesla owners in China are protesting surprise price cuts they missed out on

Hundreds of Tesla owners gathered at the automaker’s showrooms and distribution centers in China over the weekend, demanding rebates and credits after the sudden price cuts they said meant they overpaid for the electric cars they had bought earlier.

On Saturday, about 200 recent Tesla Model Y and Model 3 buyers gathered at Tesla’s Shanghai delivery center to protest the US automaker’s decision to cut prices for the second time in three months on Friday.

Many said they believed the prices Tesla charged for its cars late last year would not be cut as sharply or as deeply as the automaker had just announced to spur sales and support production at its Shanghai plant. The planned expiration of the government subsidy at the end of 2022 has also prompted many to complete their purchases.

Videos posted on social media showed crowds at Tesla stores and delivery centers in other Chinese cities from Chengdu to Shenzhen, suggesting a wider consumer response.

After Friday’s surprise discounts, Tesla’s electric car prices in China are now 13% to 24% lower than in September.

Analysts say Tesla’s move is likely to boost sales, which fell in December, and force other electric vehicle makers to slash prices at a time of faltering demand in the world’s largest market for battery-powered cars.

While established automakers often slash prices to manage inventory and keep factories running when demand falters, Tesla operates without dealers and transparent pricing is part of its brand image.

“It may be normal business practice, but that’s not how a responsible enterprise should behave,” said Minhang, a Tesla owner who gave his name as Zhang, who protested Saturday at the company’s supply center in suburban Shanghai.

He and other Tesla owners who said they took delivery in the final months of 2022 said they were frustrated with Friday’s abrupt price cut and Tesla’s lack of explanation for recent buyers.

Zhang said police facilitated a meeting between Tesla employees and the assembled owners, where the owners handed over a list of demands, including an apology and compensation or other credits. He added that Tesla employees had agreed to respond by Tuesday.

More than a dozen police officers could be seen during the protest in Shanghai, and most videos of other demonstrations also showed a large police presence on Tesla grounds.

Protests are not uncommon in China, where people have been coming out en masse over issues such as financial or real estate fraud for years, but authorities are on high alert after widespread protests in China’s cities and top universities late last year. November against Covid-19 restrictions.

Other videos that appear to be protesting Tesla owners were also posted on Chinese social media platforms on Saturday.

One video verified by Reuters was shot at a Tesla store in the southwestern city of Chengdu, which showed a crowd chanting: “Back the money, return our cars.”

Another, which appeared to be filmed in Beijing, showed police cars arriving to disperse crowds in front of a Tesla store.

Reuters was unable to verify the content of any of the videos.

Tesla has no plans to compensate buyers who took delivery before the latest price cut, a spokesman for Tesla in China told Reuters on Saturday.

He did not respond when asked to comment on the protests.

China accounted for about a third of Tesla’s global sales in 2021, and its Shanghai factory, which employs around 20,000 workers, is its most productive and profitable factory.

Analysts were positive about the possibility of Tesla’s price cuts to drive sales growth as it marks a year since the announcement of another new vehicle, the Cybertruck.

“Nowhere else in the world is Tesla as competitive as here [in China]said Bill Russo, head of consulting firm Automobility Ltd in Shanghai.

“They’re in a much larger electric vehicle market with companies that can price more aggressively than they have so far.”

In 2021, Tesla faced a public relations storm after a disgruntled customer got into a car at a Shanghai auto show to protest the company’s handling of its complaints about its car’s brakes.

Tesla responded by apologizing to Chinese consumers for not resolving the complaint in a timely manner.

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