Tesla Motors Inc built and sold only 2400 units of the Roadster battery electric vehicle (BEV) sports car but it succeeded in showing the world that an electric car could be as fast and furious as a car with an internal combustion engine. The Roadster is no longer in production, but a report by Bloomberg suggested that a Chinese firm has ambitious plans to build an EV sports car to pick up the race with performance EVs.
Tesla started building its strong brand awareness by building the Tesla Roadster. The Roadster is an electric sports car that could take on high performance cars running on fossil fuels. YouTube is filled with videos of the Roadster taking on Porsche and Ferrari among other brands of sports car. However, Tesla was quick to move from building sports cars to building a sedan and an SUV. The firm has hinted that it could refresh its Roadster line but it hasn’t made any commitments on when the Roadster reloaded will be built.
A Roadster Progeny Emerges From China
Chinese automobile firm, Qiantu Motor is on a mission to build luxury-class performance EVs. Qiantu Motors has reportedly started building a factory for the production of electric cars with carbon-fiber bodies and aluminum frames in Suzhou. The move by Qiantu to build its cars with ultramodern (pricey) materials is in a sharp contrast to the usual practice of Chinese firms who build cheaper knockoffs of Tesla’s Model S.
Lu Qun, Chairman of Qiantu Motors says, “We are aiming at building high-performance cars, and there’s no other option but to build our own factory, because there isn’t a plant in China that has a carbon-fiber molding workshop.” Qiantu is not making empty threats, it’s goal is to compete with Tesla and its CEO says, “we are learning from Tesla as well as all the other electric carmakers.”
To buttress the point that Qiantu is not making empty promises, the firm had its K50 concept EV (pictured below) on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. The K50 will hit the roads in 2017 with a prices starting from 700,000 Yuan about $106,000.
Qiantu also poses a much bigger threat to Tesla Motors Inc in China because of the government policy on EV subsidies. The government offers huge subsidies on EVs in China (up to 100,000 Yuan in some places) in order to reduce the pollution problem in the country. However, the subsidies are only available on cars produced locally in the country. Tesla doesn’t have a local manufacturing presence in China yet; hence, its cars do not qualify for the subsidies. If Qiantu goes ahead to build its premium brand, it might take over the performance/luxury EV market in China because buyers would be paying less for its cars by accessing subsidies.
Hong Kong Seems To Have Blacklisted Tesla Motors
In other news, Tesla Motors Inc seems to have been blacklisted by regulators in Hong Kong and buyers of its cars in Hong Kong might not be able to access some features available to users in other parts of the world. It was reported that the Transport Department in Hong Kong has asked Tesla to remove the Calendar app from its cars.
In an announcement to Model S owners, the firm revealed that “at the request of the Hong Kong Transport Department, the Calendar app has been removed with this release. The Hong Kong Transport Department has determined that the Calendar app has no bearing on the drivability of the car and therefore should not be offered in Tesla vehicles in Hong Kong.”
The Calendar app allows drivers to sync their calendar to their vehicle – if an appointment has a location, you can easily select and add the location to the navigation system. Before taking up issue with the Calendar app, Hong Kong regulators asked Tesla to remove Autosteer and Auto Lane Change from features that Autopilot offers to drivers in Hong Kong.