A 25-percent import tariff can certainly make an automaker take notice (to wit: Toyota). In Tesla's case, that means getting production capabilities on the ground in China as soon as possible. According to Bloomberg News, that could mean 2017. Or maybe not.

Bloomberg, citing comments by Tesla chief Elon Musk made at Beijing's Geekpark Conference earlier this week, said the California-based maker of the Model S electric sedan may start making vehicles in China as soon as 2017 or 2018. Musk also envisions a substantial charging network throughout cities such as Beijing and Shanghai and obviously thinks the current Chinese resistance to plug-in vehicles will pass. The California-based automaker delivered its first nine Model S EVs in China this week.

Of course, Musk has a way with hyperbole, and when contacted by AutoblogGreen, a company representative toned down such a timeframe.

"We hope that local production in China is in Tesla's future so that we can manufacture our vehicles where they are sold," wrote Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen. "We aren't likely to produce cars in China within the next three to four years, however, nor are we currently in any serious discussions to do so."

By making cars in China, Tesla, which opened a showroom in Beijing late last year, would avoid the 25 percent import tax China enforces on foreign-made vehicles. As it is, Tesla is pricing the 85-kilowatt hour version of the Model S at about $118,000 in China. That's about $47,000 higher than the US base price, but it's actually kind of "aggressive." Musk has said Tesla will sell as many as 5,000 vehicles in China this year, while Tesla executives have said they expect China to account for a third of Tesla's global sales this year and as much as half next year. Tesla sold about 22,300 vehicles in the US last year.

Tesla has also started leasing the Model S in Switzerland for roughly $750 a month. Read more details in the press release below.
Show full PR text
Tesla and Sixt Leasing Announce Strategic Partnership in Switzerland

ZURICH, April 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

Swiss Customers Can Drive Model S for About CHF 660 per month, After Fuel and Tax Savings in Multiple Cantons

Leasing Offer Includes Annual Service Performed by Tesla

Tesla today announced an expansion of its strategic relationship with Sixt Leasing. Now Model S customers in Switzerland, as well as Germany, can benefit from compelling lease offers from Sixt Leasing. Swiss customers can obtain a lease offer from Sixt Leasing that results in the effective and attractive cost of driving a Model S of about CHF 660 per month, including annual service performed by Tesla.

Customers who lease a Model S with Sixt Leasing will enjoy exceptionally low monthly payments, annual service, and the unique cost advantages for driving Model S, such as free use of Tesla's Supercharger network and an exemption from Switzerland's annual road tax. With 10% down on a 36 month lease, Sixt currently offers payments of approximately CHF 810 - 950* per month, depending on the mileage selected by the customer. Driving a Tesla Model S can save customers up to CHF 300 per month in fuel and tax savings compared to other premium internal combustion vehicles, resulting in a potential effective cost of driving Model S of about CHF 660 per month.

The unique cost advantages of driving a Model S in Switzerland include:
                         Savings per     Advantages         Month                   Explanation                                      Savings from driving with electricity                                     vs. gasoline, including access to                                     Tesla's free Supercharging Network, and     Fuel Savings      CHF 100 - 260 10,000 - 25,000 kilometres per year                                      Electric vehicles are exempt from annual                                     road tax in certain cantons including     Road Tax Savings  Up to CHF 40  Zurich, Geneva and Ticino. 
"We're pleased to offer attractive financing deals to our Swiss customers," said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. "After a successful launch in Germany, we're looking forward to extending our partnership with Sixt Leasing to Switzerland."

Every lease with Sixt Leasing includes Tesla Service at no cost to the customer. Customers living throughout Switzerland now can enjoy the thrill of driving Model S with the security of service directly from Tesla, including 24 hour roadside assistance.
_____________________________

*Non-binding sample calculations from Sixt Leasing (Schweiz) AG, Schwarzwaldalle 242, 4050 Basel, for a Tesla Model S 60 kWh, based on a retail price of CHF 71.900,00; incl. 8 % VAT, leasing duration 36 months, max. mileage 15'000 km p.a., with a down payment of CHF 7.190,00 and registration and administration fees amounting to CHF 500,00 paid separately. Calculation based on estimated savings relating to fuel, supercharging and road tax. Offers subject to confirmation; additional expenses arise for liability and full coverage insurances. The assignment of the above-mentioned offers and the terms and conditions of the contracts are under the sole responsibility of Sixt Leasing (Schweiz) AG. Granting of the lease is forbidden if it leads to the indebtedness of the lessee. Further details are laid down in the contracts. For inquiries contact your Tesla store. Please find on this website the cantonal road tax savings for electric vehicles: http://www.teslamotors.com/de_CH/incentives/CH.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 8 Months Ago
      “At some point in the next three or four years, we’ll be establishing local manufacturing in China,” Musk said. “China is very important to the future of Tesla. We’re going to make a big investment in China in terms of charging infrastructure.” Still too early to tell what will happen. It may not ever be the Model S or X. But the model E that may get some components produced in China.
        Weapon
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Unlikely, things made in China are too expensive and too low quality to be worth it. Tesla will most likely build an assembly plant there and just import the parts for the Chinese market.
        Joeviocoe
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Says the guy likely using a computer with parts made in China.
      SublimeKnight
      • 8 Months Ago
      Awesome... can't wait to buy Tesla motors and inverters on alibaba in 2017.
        Jon
        • 8 Months Ago
        @SublimeKnight
        I'm curious about this comment. Alibaba often comes up in search results when I am trying to find parts in the course of my work. Why does Tesla assembling cars in China mean their parts will start appearing on Alibaba? Is there some sort of open sale requirement to imported parts in China?
          paulwesterberg
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Jon
          Alibaba is where all of the knockoff hardware and stuff smuggled off of Chinese manufacturing lines goes, basically a black market on brand name goods.
          Actionable Mango
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Jon
          Why will Alibaba ship to some states in the US, but not others? After entering in all of my information (name, address, phone, login, password, credit card info), it tells me they won't ship to Washington State. The site seems shady to me.
      Grendal
      • 8 Months Ago
      If you build it they will come. If the demand is there then I am certain that Tesla and Elon will do their best to fulfill it. The goal of Tesla is to speed up adoption of EVs around the world. Tesla is an American company but their long term goals are more lofty than just one country.
      purrpullberra
      • 8 Months Ago
      Of course, this statement has been walked back by reps in CA, that was expected. But I think Elon may have been referring to the work that Tesla will need to start on in 3-4 years so that production in China can eventually happen. So it would take another 2-3 years before the 'plant' would be up and running. All assumptions. I can't see Tesla moving their most sensitive powertrain production moving to China but rather the aluminum body stuff the painting, the interior, dash carpets etc. while shipping over the motor/gearbox etc. from CA and the batteries direct from the gigafactory. Maybe the batteries get produced there if the materials can be mined with less environmental damage done. But that isn't likely any time soon. All in all I think Elon has hit a home frickin run with this trip to China. He seems to have won over both the general public and the government. I think the government may consider giving Tesla's some sort of blessing/rebate in order to help move EV's. At the least I expect any issues where government permission is required in regards to the supercharger network and the sales/service network throughout the country to go smoothly. I honestly wonder if China may want to become a partner in the gigafactory. To help insure that the ModelE does come to fruition. Better the Chinese than dealerships or Google. China is the least Evil of those 3.
      Michael
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why any high tech company would do business in China is beyond me. The country forces them to start a joint venture with a domestic firm, which inevitably turns around and steals their intellectual property and makes knockoffs at below the price its former partner wants to sell their product for. It is short sighted to get in bed with companies in that country. It opens the Chines market in the short run, but limits growth opportunities down the road and creates a competitor with your own IP.
        purrpullberra
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Michael
        I think the building of the bodies and the marriage of powertrain to body would be done in China and those methods would be open to 'spying'. But they would still build the motors, gearbox and the supercharging works in CA and the batteries at the gigafactory. I assume. But, they (the Chinese... whomever) will already be buying one (if they haven't already bought one and shipped it home) to reverse engineer it as best they can. By 2017 the will be giving it all they can so maybe there isn't anything to lose then. The Chinese still can't build much that is better than the West produce already, they will not be able to build a Tesla better than Tesla can any time soon. I imagine Tesla is thinking along these lines on the subject.