Tesla Motors Inc China GM Resigns

Tesla Motors Inc's China plans may receive a temporary setback as the company’s general manager in China resigns. The latest development may not go very well with the automaker’s plans to increase its presence in the world’s largest auto market.

Reasons for departure unknown

Tesla Motors Inc Vice President Veronica Wu confirmed that General Manager Kingston Chang is no longer part of the team, according to a report from Bloomberg. No further details on the reasons of the exit and the likely successor have been provided. However, a report from Sina.com suggests that Chang left due to personal reasons.

Chang joined Tesla a year ago, and previously he was working with Volkswagen AG’s Bentley China, where he was the general manager, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to Bentley, Chang worked for many firms including Inchcape Plc and Jebsen Group. Chang, who is a graduate from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has over two decades of experience in the automotive industry.

Tesla has big plans for China

Tesla Motors Inc is making efforts to make Model S eligible for China’s electric car subsidies. Tesla has priced the Model S at 734,000 yuan ($118,000) in China including shipping costs, value-added taxes and import duties. In the U.S., the price is around $81,000 before federal tax credits.

The departure may have come at a wrong time for Tesla, whose Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has big plans for China. In January, Musk said that China sales could match that of U.S. by as early as next year. Tesla started taking orders for its Model S in August, but has yet to start the deliveries. In November, the U.S. automaker inaugurated an 800-square-meter (8,600 square feet) store in a Beijing shopping mall.

Other automakers, who have been for long making efforts to bring Chinese consumers around on the idea of electric cars, are keenly watching the moves of Tesla in China. Owing to mounting concerns over the rising pollution levels, China has set a target of having 5 million alternative-energy-powered vehicles by 2020. However, the lack of infrastructure and high costs are proving to be a roadblock.

Recently, the United States National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) ended its probeagainst Tesla Motors Inc after finding “no defect trends” over the Model S fires.

NHTSA said, ”Tesla’s revision of vehicle ride height and addition of increased underbody protection should reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk.”

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