It Seems Sure that Tesla Will Establish Factory in China

On October 16, 2017, Tesla unprecedentedly released Model S/X for a country and offered charging adapter in line with China’s new national standard, which is a rare case.

What is a customized Chinese version of Tesla?

Both Model S and X use 2 in 1 charging connector design, combining DC and AC charging. Thus, home, destination and super charging pile could use one connector.

Thanks to the design, Tesla cleverly integrates the charging and taillights. When charging, users press the charging port and the car’s charging cap will automatically pop off.

But the China’s new national standard separates the AC charging ports from DC and thus, there are two independent interfaces. It means the port would take up more space.

Charging interfaces in line with the new national standard couldn’t combine with rear lights any more. As a result, the interface moves forward from the original position and cuts an oval-ship on car body. The new design looks like fuel tank cap of gasoline car.

Compare domestic charging ports with foreign charging ports
Compare the charging state of domestic and foreign charging interfaces

Here’s a comparison of the Chinese version Model X and the original. On left and back of Model S/X, there is a Chinese imprint — also known as the “perfect scar” by some Tesla consumers.

The customized Chinese version of Model X
The standard Model X

Model S/X car consumers in China will purchase “tank top” version of the electric car. The Tesla didn’t officially release Model 3 with “tank top” design. It’s still a long way from the Model 3 delivery to China, so Tesla has time to find a better charging port design on Model 3.

To be compatible with China’s charging standards, Elon Musk need to redesign the body of the three models and transform all supercharging piles and destination charging piles in China.

Although these changes are not big in terms of design, it is by no means a trifling matter to change the existing mature design for car company that needs to control each link from the design, development, production, sales, charging and after-sale service.

Why would Tesla do that? This is a very important question, and we’ll focus on that later.

Tesla launched charging adapter with China’s new national standard

Tesla DC charging adapter

Tesla consumers in China have been eager to see the DC charging adapter shown in the chart above. With this device, Model S/X could be charged by quick charging pile observing new national standard and could use more charging piles apart from Tesla charging network. This adapter is actually a switch plug, and Apple users should be familiar with this type of product.

Tesla uses DC charging pile

There are lot of stories behind the DC charging adapter. The product development has been around for a long time. Many Tesla consumers have been looking forward to it. At the Guangzhou Auto Show in November 2016, Tesla already released the product, and then, there is no then.

Almost a year after the launch, there is no further move of Tesla’s new national standard DC charging adapter. In some BBS, a small number of Tesla consumers was invited to try beta-version adapters. The new travel report points out that in a WeChat ads, Tesla DC charging adapter is priced at 6,000 yuan.

Later, some new consumers were told by the sales consultant that they could get a $3,000 gift package, either two-year maintenance or one DC charging adapter.

There are also some old for new consumers saying there is an opportunity for them to get a DC charging adapter.

For a long time, DC charging adapters were a gift for a small number of special consumers, and others aren’t able to buy them.

Meanwhile, many Tesla customers called up Tesla 400 Customer Service about when the DC charging adapter would be launched and the customer service replied in September this year. But the promise wasn’t kept.

On October 16, Tesla announced a free offer to existing consumers of DC and AC charging adapters. Tesla customers have waited for the DC charging adapters for about a year and the price changed from 6,000 to 3,000 to free. Many chatting groups of Tesla flooded with news and all consumers were excited.

You see, this is how to manage user satisfaction. The moment of surprise will leave a deep impression on users, leaving them a very satisfied impression. And consumers wouldn’t remember how suffering they were when waiting for adapters.

Well, now that your Model S USES a new GB DC charging adapter and he bought a customized Chinese Model X, can you two use state grid DC charging piles?

Unfortunately, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s not so pleasant.

First, charge for charging. Many Tesla consumers are accustomed to free charge and may be uncomfortable with charge fees. Fortunately, it is not as expensive as refueling.

The real problem is that there is a big difference in the operating condition of the charging piles observing new national standard. Even if the DC charging adapter is plugged in, it remains unsure whether the Model S/X can be recharged successfully.

Some charging piles cannot charge the car and even may trigger Tesla’s system protection. Therefore, when power is low, don’t use charging piles of new national standard for emergency. Users should set up the redundant backup or find the overcharge.

Tesla’s rewards

Now let us talk about the story behind the news.

What has Tesla done to follow China’s charging standards?

  • Tesla gave adapter that originally priced at thousands of yuan to all Chinese consumers with Tesla vehicles for free.
  • For a problem could have been solved by a switch in theory, Tesla solved it by specifically modifying the design model for China.

No carmakers are willing to do this unless they get a decent return.

What has the Chinese government got?

Although Tesla has transformed all supercharging piles and destination charging piles in China so as to observe new GB standard, Tesla’s vast network of charging stations is still only available for Tesla consumers and other branded electric vehicles can’t be recharged there.

Tesla’s charging network has not become part of the social charging infrastructure, maintaining its independence.

I would like to say that what the Chinese government gets is the recognition of China’s charging interface standard by the world’s first electric car manufacturer. What Tesla has done actions have really shown enough respect to Chinese government.

And what will the Chinese government pay for Tesla’s efforts?

If we think the full support of new standard is Tesla’s compromise on the Chinese market, the reward for Tesla, then, should be the Chinese government’s concessions on key terms in Tesla’s building factory in China.

Of course, the new GB charging standard and the approval of foreign auto companies in China construction plant are not the same governing bodies. But the electric vehicle industry policy is a very important part of China’s economic future development plan. And Tesla has been in contact with local and central government agencies.

It is important to know that when Elon Musk came to China in April, he met Chinese vice premier.

This article originally appeared in 36kr and was translated by Pandaily.