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The Case Of China’s Missing Tesla Cars

The Case Of China’s Missing Tesla Cars
[Photo: Flickr user Mikest]

A glaring discrepancy between the number of Tesla cars shipped to China and the actual number of license plates issued for these vehicles has some people scratching their heads.

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The Los Angeles Times reports that more than 2,800 Model S cars were imported to China in recent months, but the country has only given out 432 license plates, which are required for their operation.

“It’s very puzzling,” Junheng Li, JL Warren’s head of research, told The Los Angeles Times. “The cars are in China, but they’re not being driven.”

Currently, there are three theories as to why:

  • Car scalpers are buying the car at face value, about $120,000, and trying to resell them at a premium. (Tesla’s spokesman said this isn’t a “significant factor in China.”)
  • Complications to car registration rules in Shanghai delayed the number of license plates issued. (Because this is China, it’s possible bureaucratic red tape–Tesla’s leading theory–is responsible for the discrepancy.)
  • Chinese customers, who have already put down a $10,000 deposit, are hoping the government will exempt the electric vehicle from a 8% to 10% purchase tax.

Eyeing the Chinese market, Tesla said last month that it plans to build 400 charging stations in the country, news that sent its shares soaring to a new high in August.

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