Tesla Motors is allegedly delivering its first electric car to a mainland customer for a total price of around 2.5 million yuan, (HK$3 million) according to local media reports and online postings.
News of the delivery, made to a Zhejiang man in Dongyang city, first appeared alongside photographs on a Sina Weibo microblog owned by an automobile enthusiast using the nickname “Hantian Racing ”.
“China’s first Tesla Model S is now in the pocket of a young 24 year old from [Zhejiang’s Dongyang city]!” the original post read. “The owner is affectionately referring to his new car as ‘Te Te’!”
Reporters from the Qianjeng Evening News  followed up on the Weibo posts, and discovered that the poster known as “Hantian Racing” was director of a car factory in Zhejiang. He knew of the car’s buyer, but declined to give a name and would only state that the Model S was currently in Shanghai, would soon be shipped to Dongyang, and had been purchased in a “direct transfer from Hong Kong” with total shipping costs estimated at around 2.5 million yuan.
“[The buyer's] always had a wide variety of vehicles to play with, but after finding them all boring, he saw this Tesla Model S and thought the concept was very new,” the netizen nicknamed “Hantian Racing” told Qianjeng Evening News. “So he ordered one from Hong Kong.”
Inquiries into the buyer’s contact information confirmed that he was a fan of modified cars living in Dongyang city and was involved in a luxury wedding car rental service.
Tesla has yet to confirm the purchase or the car’s alleged price.
Tesla has not formally opened a branch on the mainland, but the company started pre-order bookings for its Model S in late August. Presumably, pre-ordered vehicles must be shipped to the mainland from the company’s Hong Kong headquarters until Tesla’s Beijing store opens for business in 2014.
Zhejiang customs officials did not comment specifically on the purchase and shipping on the vehicle, but confirmed that its high price was likely due to Chinese tariffs on imported cars that go as high as 25 per cent, as well as other additional taxes.
Aside from the high import price, owning a Tesla Model S would be difficult in China due to a lack of public charging stations for fueling the electric cars, Qianjeng Evening News reported.
Nevertheless, China remains an important market for Tesla, and the company has experienced success with the Model S in Hong Kong. In July, Tesla’s Hong Kong branch received over 300 orders for the vehicle, surpassing the total number of electric cars currently in the city.