Elon Musk’s Tesla closed down its flagship showroom in Beijing as the electric car giant shifts retail strategy to adapt to the Chinese market.
“Their contract with us expired and Tesla decided not to extend it,” said a staff member of Beijing’s Parkview Green shopping centre, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Tesla recently outlined plans to shift its Chinese stores to lower-cost suburban areas which also offer repairs, after Covid restrictions have repeatedly limited visitors to large scale malls in cities like Beijing.
The Beijing store, opened in 2013, was Tesla’s first in China. It was renovated in 2018 and expanded to occupy two floors of the mall.
The company’s China recruitment website showed 305 openings for service jobs as of Wednesday, including technicians for its new suburban stores.
More than half of Tesla’s China stores currently do not offer repair or maintenance services and are in high-rent locations where space is limited. That included the now-closed Parkview Green Tesla store.
Tesla owns and runs over 200 outlets across the country. It also sells its cars online. That has allowed it more leeway to adjust a retail strategy that had been initially modelled on Apple’s glossy stores in high-rent locations.
Tesla sold 318,151 vehicles in China in the first nine months of 2022, up 55% from a year earlier, according the China Passenger Car Association. By comparison, overall sales of electric vehicles and hybrids increased 113%.
Tesla has cut starter prices for its Model 3 and Model Y cars by as much as 9% in China, reversing a trend of price increases across the industry amid signs of softening demand in the world’s largest auto market.
Tesla did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
- Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon