China Yintai pins hopes on green and glamorous tie-up with Tesla
Property firm's alliance with electric car maker Tesla could help boost its own branding
Langi Chiang and Kwong Man-ki in Beijing
Mainland property conglomerate China Yintai Holdings is hoping its alliance with Tesla Motors will lend its brand a touch of glamour and associate it with innovation and eco-friendliness.
Yintai became the mainland's first commercial property operator last month to partner the Californian-based Tesla to provide free charging facilities for its electric cars.
Even after Tesla delivered the first batch of eight electric vehicles in April in the capital, battery-powered cars are rarely seen on the streets as many of the orders are yet to be distributed. The company does not disclose the details of its deliveries.
"This partnership will have a positive impact on branding, associating Yintai with hi-tech, environmental protection and fashion, although it will not help much to increase revenue-generating passenger flows," said Sunny Zhang, the head of research at property consultancy Insite China.
"It has yet to have any big impact on the property industry's development."
But the pact drove Yintai's Shanghai-listed subsidiary Metro Land shares up by the daily limit of 10 per cent after its announcement on June 11.
So far, there are just two charging ports at the retail-office complex Beijing Yintai Centre in the city's central business district. On an average day, about one or two Tesla cars drive in to recharge, for free, in the basement car park, often overnight.
Car owners need to pay 6 yuan (HK$7.50) an hour for parking, shopping and dining at the mall, with their cars sometimes attracting the attention of visitors for their novelty value. All that may change as ports become more commonplace.
Peggy Yang, Tesla's China communications director, said Yintai had agreed to build more than 40 charging points in their properties across the mainland. The company has a presence in more than 30 cities, including Hangzhou, Chengdu, Xian, Wuhan and Harbin.
"We will continue to work with different developers and in other cities. We haven't set a cap on the number of charging stations we are going to build," Yang said, adding that Hong Kong-listed Soho China would also install Tesla's charging ports at its projects.
Wangjing Soho in Beijing has already installed nine charging ports.
"Because of the competition for customers, shopping malls are trying their best to provide convenience and superior experience," Zhang said.
Yintai's chief executive Chen Xiaodong said the company aimed to provide more convenient and smart services to eco-friendly consumers through its partnership with Tesla.
In Beijing, Yintai competes against other luxury shopping centres such as the Place and Central Park, China World Trade Centre and China Central Place.
In the second and third-tier cities, the competition can get even tougher and it may take much longer for commercial property - especially shopping centres - to find tenants, compared with the residential sector, according to the latest annual survey by the Urban Land Institute in 36 cities.
Meanwhile, mall operators are under renewed threat from e-commerce, in big and small cities, as consumers increasingly go online to shop.