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The Mystery Behind Tesla's Chinese Sales Hiccup

Tesla

A week after a report that Tesla’s sales in China crumbled in October and the EV maker refuting it as ‘wildly inaccurate’, an auto industry expert said that the third-party data about Tesla’s plunging sales is accurate, as sales have suffered from frequent price changes in the latter half of this year.

Tesla’s sales in China plummeted by 70 percent in October in the latest demonstration of the adverse impact the U.S.-Chinese trade war is having on business, Reuters reported last week, citing data from the China Passenger Car Association. China is a key market for Tesla where it plans to build a gigafactory, and last month it only sold 211 cars there, according to the association’s data.

In an email to Barron’s, a Tesla spokesman disputed the report of the 70-percent sales plunge, saying that the numbers obtained from an official at the association are “wildly inaccurate” and “off by a significant margin.”

Later in the week, Freeman Shen, chief executive at China’s electric vehicle maker WM Motor, said reports that Tesla’s vehicle sales in China plunged by 70 percent last month is “misleading information” because of the opaque and not always accurate sales numbers coming out of China. Shen told CNBC that Chinese car sales numbers are always “kind of a mystery” because data is collected through several channels. Related: U.S. Treasury Sanctions Bitcoin Wallets For First Time

Now another China-based auto industry expert, Jacob George, vice president and general manager of J.D. Power China, the Chinese branch of U.S. marketing intelligence company J.D. Power, told Observer that “The declining trend is obvious, even if the absolute numbers are not exactly accurate.”

Tesla’s sales in China have suffered from the frequent price changes in response to the Chinese tariffs on U.S.-made cars, according to George.  

“Consumer sentiment on the brand probably hasn’t been affected, but consumer willingness-to-pay is affected by price,” George told Observer, commenting on the trend in Tesla’s sales in China. So far this week, Tesla’s stock has jumped on the news that the U.S. and China are putting the trade war on hold.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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