Tesla China sales won’t slump in May despite controversy over car accidents: expert
Published: Jun 04, 2021 11:23 PM
People sit inside a Tesla car displayed at a store in Beijing. Photos: VCG

People sit inside a Tesla car displayed at a store in Beijing. Photos: VCG

Despite a lot of media coverage about brake problems causing accidents involving Tesla vehicles in China, the US electric vehicle brand isn't likely to see a slump in sales for May, a senior auto expert said Friday.

Tesla sales in May are expected to be near the level of April, Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), told the Global Times on Friday. He said the sales probably won't be less than 10,000 units.

Tesla vehicle net orders in China nearly halved in May to about 9,800 from more than 18,000 in April, with the US carmaker facing increased scrutiny over its handling of customer complaints over quality issues, The Information reported on Thursday, citing internal data.

"Placed orders cannot equal the sales number in one month. Usually, monthly sales are accumulated units of orders over previous months, so the immediate results in May might not truly reflect whether the recently reported accidents have had any real impact on Tesla's sales," said Cui.

"We will have to wait till July or August to see," he added.

Tesla vehicle sales plummeted by 67.1 percent in April month-on-month, falling to 11,671 units compared with 35,478 units in March, according to CPCA data.

Most industry observes attributed the sales decline to the controversy following the Shanghai Auto Show in April when a woman jumped on a Tesla model to protest against "brake malfunctions," as well as subsequent reports of accidents. But Tesla China said the drop in sales was due to suspended production for two weeks while the company upgraded its production line equipment.

Against the backdrop of increased government scrutiny over Tesla's handling of customer complaints over quality issues, some auto analysts told the Global Times that sales in China are likely to go on a downward spiral in the coming months. 

From the perspective of product competitiveness, however, some observers believe the drop in sales won't be a long-term trend for the US brand.

An independent auto analyst surnamed Wang said that compared with negative opinion, short-term capacity shortages and the global chip shortage pose bigger challenges for Tesla. 

Shares in Tesla rose 4.05 percent as of press time on Friday.

Global Times