(Yicai Global) Jan. 16 -- Tesla’s footfall and orders have spiked in China since the US electric carmaker cut prices earlier this month, in a move that has ramped up the pressure on the firm’s Chinese competitors.
Orders for Tesla cars have surged by as much as 500 percent in some cities since last month, according to industry figures. That is putting Chinese producers under great strain, the boss of one auto company told Yicai Global.
Tesla’s website announced a sharp reduction in prices for China-made models on Jan. 6, with the Model 3 sedan’s starting price cut to a record low of CNY229,900 (USD34,160) from CNY265,900.
The following weekend, Tesla showrooms had an average of 110 to 130 authentic orders each, Sun Shaojun, founder of the auto consumer services site Car Fans, said his platform’s data showed. Customer numbers soared about 450 percent compared with the previous weekend, per the data.
Such steep price cuts will put direct pressure on some automakers, which will be forced in turn to take similar steps, according to a report by Guotai Junan Securities.
“Tesla is making huge profits, allowing it to start a price war,” a source close to senior managers at another carmaker told Yicai Global. “But we don’t have that ability.”
Against the backdrop of expected weak demand for new energy vehicles in the first half of this year, Tesla’s move will further ratchet up the pressure on competitors, the person said.
Aito, an electric vehicle brand co-launched by Huawei Technologies and automaker Seres Group, became the first NEV startup to lower prices after Tesla, announcing them for a number of models on Jan. 13. Among them, the reductions on two versions of the Aito M5, an electric sport utility vehicle, ranged from CNY28,800 to CNY30,000 (USD4,280 to USD4,460).
But the vast majority of brands have not yet followed Tesla in lowering prices. Instead of officially setting out cuts, some are instead offering steeper discounts to make their products more competitive. Sales staff at one startup’s showroom told Yicai Global that some popular models are on sale and customers can discuss the details in-store.
Market insiders generally believe that China’s auto market will be under strain in the first quarter or the first half. The NEV segment will face huge first-half challenges, according to Nio Chairman Li Bin, because demand was released earlier than expected and consumer confidence also needs time to recover.
Editors: Xu Wei, Peter Thomas