It appears that Tesla’s own operation in China cannot satisfy demand, creating a market for overpriced and under equipped American-spec cars to be imported by grey market privateers and sold for a fat markup.
Forbes reports that at least one private Tesla seller in Tianjin has imported 16 Model X P90Ds from the U.S. and is listing them at 1.54 to 1.58 million yuan (about $240,000.) With the official list price of the car in China at 1.15 million yuan (about $170,000) that’s a pretty massive dealer bonus, even after they buy and ship the car from another hemisphere. The P90D lists for about $115,000 here in America.
That same dealer apparently told Forbes’ China correspondent “he had sold all his red models and only had the white ones left.”
On top of the substantial extra cost people in China are paying to get these cars when the Tesla store runs out of stock, they’re getting a suboptimal product. The U.S.-spec cars infotainment systems are in English, gauges are in MPH, navigation doesn’t work, and oh yeah—the factory warranty is immediately voided.
Suffice to say, these must be Tesla Cult diehards buying these things. Or they just don’t know what they’re getting in to. Seems like the company should start shipping more vehicles to the People’s Republic to cash in.
Interestingly, CarNewsChina reported a similar phenomenon in 2014 with the Model S. They talked to a dealer who had a grey-market car marked up by more than $10,000 over what it would have sold for at a Tesla store and a lot more on the way.
We sent Tesla a message to ask about their plan to deal with private operations circumventing their sales system, if one exists. Will update if we hear back.