Tesla Inc. shipments of China-made cars to the local market fell sharply last month following a run of negative publicity that culminated in the recall of almost every vehicle the California-based company has sold in the nation.
Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle pioneer reported domestic China shipments of just 8,621 units in July, a 69 percent plunge from June when Tesla’s Shanghai factory shipped 28,138 cars to the local market. Exports however soared to 24,347 versus 5,017, with most of those vehicles destined for Europe. That meant overall Tesla China shipments in July decreased just 0.6 percent to 32,968.
After initially enjoying a red-carpet welcome in China, including being the only foreign automaker allowed to wholly own its local operation, Tesla has endured a series of setbacks this year. A protest by a disgruntled owner at the Shanghai Auto Show in April that went viral on social media was followed by a spate of crashes and regulatory concerns over safety and customer service.
At the same time, Tesla is facing fiercer competition from local EV startups like Nio Inc., Xpeng Inc. and Li Auto Inc., which has just raised $1.5 billion in its Hong Kong listing that will help fund research and development and infrastructure expansion. Li Auto delivered 8,589 cars in July, while Xpeng sold 8,040 vehicles last month. Nio delivered 7,931. It’s the first month that domestic upstarts have recorded similar deliveries to the American giant.