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Summary:

Tesla is opening up sales in the world’s largest auto market: China. It’s a bit of a risk, but the company thinks it’s worth it.

Tesla Model S, image courtesy of Tesla.

Now that Tesla’s Model S car has done well in the U.S. and has been launched in Europe, it’s time for the company to focus on Asia. On Thursday the electric car maker announced that it’s set the price for the Model S in China, and also opened up one of its online customizable ordering sites for Chinese customers. China is the largest auto market in the world and a bit of a wild card for Tesla.

Tesla China

The price of the premium Model S (with the largest battery range) in China will be 734k CNY, or $121K including taxes and shipping and handling. Without taxes and shipping and handling, Tesla is actually pricing the premium car at $81K, or around the same price as it’s available elsewhere in the world.

The Tesla team writes in a blog post that pricing the car at the same price as its sold elsewhere — what it says is lower than many of its competitors in China — could be a risk because customers could mistakenly think the car is valued less than competitors. But Tesla says it wants to be both fair and also advance the spread of electric cars in China.

Tesla built a store in China last year in the Parkview Green mall, in central Beijing. The store is “a gleaming, pyramid-shaped plaza designed with sky-gardens and atria spaces,” as the San Jose Mercury called it and it’s three times larger than its stores in the U.S. While Tesla is just starting to ship Model S cars into Asia in 2014, it has been taking reservations in China since last Summer.

The Chinese government has heavily supported electric cars as a way to help with China’s looming air pollution problems (but doesn’t provide incentives for imported electric cars). Chinese consumers that are buying cars and electric cars are mostly buying high-end luxury brands, and the Model S fits right into that category.

  1. That price of $81k for the top of the line Model S is far from accurate. That’s actually closer to the price for the entry level with the 60kW battery. Definitely not the 85kW battery and definitely not the 85+ model with the 85kW battery and more powerful motor.

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  2. Too bad the cars are still expensive!

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