Though Tesla has opened its first venue in China, there is still a lot of uncertainty as to the parameters of the company’s operations in the country, Reuters reports. In a landmark move for Tesla, the company opened its first store in Beijing, bringing its products to a whole new swath of potential customers. Tesla has also initiated online sales of its products into China. This will bring the latest electric-powered cars, such as the Model S, to the forefront for those in China who are wealthy enough to afford their hefty price tag.
However, there are a couple of rather strange problems that have dogged the company as it seeks to expand into what could be its second-largest market. The company still has managed to go without a name in Chinese. This is because “Te Si La,” which would be the closest transliteration of the company’s name, is trademarked by a different Chinese businessman, Zhan Baosheng.
Zhan has held the trademark in his possession ever since 2006, and, so far, he has made no indication of his intent to sell the name to Tesla. Though Tesla has tried to make him offers, he has yet to express any interest in making a deal with the automaker, suggesting that he is not in it for the money. There have been cases of Chinese business people trademarking names simply to try and sell them to foreign companies; Apple had to dole out millions for the name of the iPad in China when it turned out that someone had beaten them to the punch.
One option for the automaker could be to go under a slight variation of their name, such as “Te Su Le,” which roughly translates as “happiness in boosting speed.” That name, which originated from a social networking site, has been criticized by some as not conveying the eloquence and the opulence of Tesla’s vehicles. Either way, the company faces a tough decision when it comes to naming their product in China and, up until now, they’ve chosen to stick with their anglicized nomenclature.
Meanwhile, a different problem for Tesla has arisen over Chinese tax law, under which there are uncertainties over the import duties that the company needs to pay on electric vehicles being transported into the country. Until the matter it settled, Tesla cannot provide a final price on its cars, meaning that Tesla vehicles in its Beijing showroom currently have no name and no price. Though this second issue is expected to be sorted out shortly, it’s hard to expect Tesla to enjoy commercial success in China until it can get its affairs properly in order.