Tesla announced the launch of a new charging line on June 19. According to the company, it is the longest in mainland China, boasting a total distance of 5,000 kilometers. Spanning a vast territory from east to west, it is equipped with 27 charging stations.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, also forwarded a promotional video on Twitter, saluting the country’s magnificent landscapes.
According to the video, the line covers 9 cities, starting from Zhoushan, the eastern coastal hub, passing through Sanmenxia, Xi’an, Tianshui, Zhangye, Shanshan, Wusu and Bole, and finally extending to Horgos on the border with Kazakhstan.
This line roughly follows the route of the Silk Road, an important route for trade, tourism and culture for centuries. In 2013, the Chinese government put forward the strategic concept of building the “New Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, aiming at building stronger economic ties between Eurasian countries and deeper mutual cooperation.
Today, there is a charging station every 100 to 300 kilometers along the former Silk Road. When weather conditions permit, drivers can charge their cars once every 15 minutes and travel up to 250 kilometers. The owners of Tesla cars will be able to travel safely to tourist attractions including Kumutage Desert, Turpan Volcano, and many other scenic spots in Xinjiang – such as Lake Sayram – without worrying about power problems.
At present, China is the world’s largest electric vehicle market. Last year, Tesla sold 120,000 vehicles in the country, accounting for about 30% of its total delivery in 2020.
Charging facilities are very important for the promotion of electric vehicles, as the problem of mileage is one of the main reasons why people are unwilling to give up petrol vehicles. So far, Tesla has set up about 840 charging stations and more than 65,000 super charging stations in China, covering more than 310 cities.
Industry insiders said the promotional video may also be an effort to restore the company’s image in the Chinese market, which has recently suffered setbacks. In April 2020, a female owner of Tesla Model 3 claimed she suffered a car accident, and called for a comprehensive investigation into the failure of the vehicle brake system. In May, a Tesla driver died after rear-ending a truck in Guangdong, triggering a new round of speculation concerning potential safety problems with the American manufacturer.
Despite these issues, Tesla’s shipments to China remained robust in May. According to data from the China Passenger Car Association, Tesla sold 33,463 vehicles last month, up 202% from the same period last year. In the first five months of this year, the cumulative sales volume of Tesla Motors in China reached nearly 130,000.
Nio, one of Tesla’s local competitors, is also trying to solve the problem of the power range of electric vehicles. In April, a power exchange station jointly built by SINOPEC and Nio was officially put into operation at Beijing Chaoying Gas Station.