Tesla prepares for China expansion after dealing with name dispute

The company has settled trademark issues that prevented it from using the "Tesla Motors" name in the mainland

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 9:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 12:03pm

American electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors has ambitious plans for China, after successfully handling a trademark dispute that allows the company to advertise its vehicles in the region under the Tesla name.

Veronica Wu, vice president of Tesla’s China branch, told Reuters on January 25 that the company settled trademark issues over the "Tesla Motors" name, which had originally been registered in 2006 by a Guangdong man named Zhan Baosheng.

Zhan claimed that he needed the name for his research on electric car manufacturing, despite not using the trademark since 2009.

Media reports originally indicated that Tesla had gone to court with Zhan over the name, but a revised Reuters report revealed that the company had only released information stating that "the dispute had been resolved, [with] no further details [provided]."

According to Chinese-language analysis, the matter was likely settled outside of court, although there is currently no information on what amount Tesla may have paid Zhan. Previously, Zhan only offered to sell the name’s rights to Tesla for HK$248 million.

Tesla recently announced that its Model S electric car would retail for 734 thousand yuan (HK$941 thousand) in the mainland after deducting shipping and import costs.

In interviews with the press, Wu said that Tesla China had a “very aggressive growth objective,” and added that the company planned to open at least ten stores in major Chinese cities by the end of 2014. Tesla currently has a flagship store in Beijing that it opened at the end of 2013.

In addition to these expansion plans, Tesla announced on January 15 that the company was planning on constructing a series of charging networks on the mainland that would serve drivers traveling between major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai.