SHANGHAI -- Registrations of new Tesla Inc. cars in China plunged 46 percent in January from a month earlier as the Lunar New Year holiday and an emerging coronavirus outbreak kept vehicle buyers away.
Last month, 3,563 Teslas were registered in China, down from 6,643 in December, according to state-backed China Automotive Information Net, which gathers industry data based on insurance purchases. Of the January registrations, 2,605 were for cars built in China.
While Tesla had bucked the trend in China’s waning electric-car market in the previous two months, the January drop shows the U.S. brand isn’t immune to the challenges the industry is facing. China’s car market is headed for a third straight annual decline as the coronavirus outbreak exacerbates a slump started by an economic slowdown and trade tensions.
China’s car sales have continued to plunge in February -- falling 83 percent last week.
In total, deliveries of new-energy vehicles in China from carmakers to dealerships tumbled 54 percent last month, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry body.
Tesla started deliveries to customers from its new Shanghai plant -- its first outside the U.S. -- last month as it seeks to boost volumes amid rising competition from the likes of BMW and Daimler, which are also bringing out new electric cars.
The locally manufactured models helped Tesla’s January registrations increase when compared with a year earlier, when they only reached 853. The Lunar New Year fell in February in 2019, while this year it was in January.