Visit to a Tesla Service Station in Beijing, China

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Yesterday I went to a Tesla Service Station in Beijing for an inspection tour. I came uninvited and anonymous. It is the only service station in Beijing and only the second service station in the whole of China, the other one is in Shanghai. The station is located in a large two-story building on a large car-dealer area near the Golden Port race track in north east Beijing, a rather far away place without much action going on.

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I entered the center. On the left two ladies hiding behind large Apple computers. They completely ignored me. There was no one else around. A red Tesla Model S with the bonnet open was the center’s center piece, flanked by a demonstration platform on the right.


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The center was selling all kinds of Tesla thingies, cups and t-shirts and such, freshly imported from America with prices still in USD.


There were six of these trendy looking units in the back. Huge Apple computers again. The computers were switched off. Carpet looked very clean, just like the rest of the center, not a dirty spot in sight.


After some ten minutes I was finally addressed by one of the ladies in black, the one standing behind the red car. She kindly welcomed me with the words “No pictures inside!”, in a very loud voice. She was likely afraid I wouldn’t hear her, as I was some twenty meters away. The other girl continued to ignore me completely, staring intensely at a small laptop computer.


The shouting girl told me the service center was responsible for delivering cars to customers. They had six new Model S parked in front of the building, and another one to the right. None of the cars had a license plate, and the girl told me Tesla buyers in Beijing do indeed need to join the electric-vehicle-license-plate-lottery to get a license plate. The annual quota is 20.000 cars and applications are as high as 5000 per month, so Tesla buyers need quite a bit of luck.


Strangely, Tesla will not build a charging station at the service station. The girl didn’t know why, saying only that ‘head office’ had decided so. The service center is also not a store, decidedly not, she emphasized that. The only store is in central Beijing, and that is currently the only store in China. I pushed hard for sales numbers, but to no avail. Shouting girl said it was Tesla policy not to tell, and that she didn’t know the numbers anyway.

An interesting visit indeed. Tesla is selling cars but not in great numbers. Tesla is opening new facilities but in a kinda messy way and in strange places. The license plate problem seems to be the biggest hurdle, as long as that isn’t solved buyers will be wary. Tesla did manage to find a solution in Shanghai, but not yet in Beijing.

I will go back to the service station in about a month or so, for another inspection…

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  1. The car park outside are model S not model X, that is not yet in the market.
    Anyway the surprising point of the article is that in Beijing there is a lottery to get the plate for electric car too. And that there is a limit of 20.000 EV for years .
    This regulation is completely new to me , i was thinking that Tesla have to apply to the plate lottery because is an imported EV.
    I would like to have more details from Tycho in his next report about Tesla sales in Beijing.
    This issue is very important to understand the future of the EV cars in Beijing itself and in the whole China

  2. Still there is something does,nt match. From the numbers released from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers ( CAAM) we know that 6853 new energy vehcles was sold in China in the Q1 of 2014. If Beijing has a quota of 1666 new energy vehicles for month then only for the capital we should have 5000 vehicles sold , while for the rest of the country just 1855. It looks not beliveable. I think that Bejing can contribute to the total sales for less then half of the total number.
    If the quota in Beijing is 20.000 for year i don’t think that we will have a fully sold out quota each month. So it’s possible that the reasons why the Tesla EV are not delivered are others, not related to the quota that at the moment looks have enought capacity to satisfy the request from the market in Beijing.
    This is the point that should better investigate.

  3. Why did Tesla locate their service center in Shunyi County some 12 miles from Beijing? The sales showroom at the Parkview Green shopping mall in Beijing, makes sense but the service facility location seems remote, too far from downtown.

  4. Good job, guys! Any chance that someone can monitor daily deliveries at this shop? 6 cars parked at the only service center in Beijing doesn’t look very good for Tesla’s future.

  5. Did anyone follow up on the lottery topic? Because I really doubt that Tesla is eligible for the NEV lottery in Beijing – just like all other foreign companies. Anything else would actually be huge news.
    The China daily article that you mention does not specifically refer to the NEV lottery but to a lottery – which most likely means the normal license plate lottery in Beijing.
    The NEV lottery is actually a huge advantage over the normal one as application/quota have been around 1,2 in the first rounds vs. >20 for normal lottery. Hence chances are way bigger to actually get a license plate. However, to be eligible, your car must be listed in the local NEV catalogue, in which – to my knowledge – no imported cars have been listed so far. So Tesla being listed, it would be huge.
    Would appreciate updates!


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