Tesla-like electric cars 'won't succeed in China' even if we give it 10 years, warns top online seller
The president of one of China’s largest online car marketplaces predicted that electric cars will not become mainstream in China for at least another decade.
Yiche's Shao Jingning told the South China Morning Post that he was dubious of energy efficiency claims made by the manufacturers of electric cars, especially in comparison to traditional petrol or diesel vehicles.
“There’s not sufficient scientific research to back it up. Also, to build charging stations and produce electricity will demand more resources and may cause more environmental pollution,” he said.
Founded in 2000, Yiche, also known as BitAuto, was listed on the Nasdaq in 2010. The platform has become China's largest online-to-offline car dealing network, linking more than 70 cities across the mainland.
The mainland Chinese car market is largest in the world, with more than 20 million cars sold in 2013, a far greater amount than in the US, Japan or Germany.
Shao said that the key to his company's success is to provide a high quality offline service to car buyers. He puts his focus on customer service down to his years-long tenure as editor of lifestyle.com.cn, China's largest and oldest shopping guide.
“It is not easy, because car makers tend to think that their products are already perfect. When they fail to serve all of their customers’ needs, we have to try to do more,” he said.
Electric car manufacturers have struggled to gain traction in China. This month, Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla Motors, said the company had been "misled" by local speculators and China was the only market in the world where there was excess Tesla inventory.
A Tesla Model S 85 worth around US$70,000 in the United States can be sold for almost double that amount in China.
Other observers of the burgeoning Chinese electric car market, however, said that there was potential for growth.
Qiu Kaijun, editor of D1ev.com, a leading Chinese aggregator of global electric car news, said that around 75,000 electric cars were sold in China last year and he expects sales to double or triple in the next three to five years.
"When the techonology to make a more efficient battery becomes less expensive, as it will do, there will be more electric cars on the market. Customers want to buy them," he said.