Tesla Chinese CMO fired for low January sales

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is threatening to fire more overseas managers after the company sold only 120 cars in China during January.

June Jin, Telsa China's vice president for global business and CMO for the Greater China business, left the job last week, less than five months after her appointment in September 2014, Sina news reported on Wednesday citing unnamed sources.

Tesla didn't announce the replacement for the job in China, indicating that all the marketing-related work will be temporarily handled by China's PR director.

Jin, the former Autonavi CMO, is the third top Tesla China manager to leave the company since 2014. In charge of Tesla China's marketing, PR, and branding work, Jin has, in fact, gradually faded out of the public eye since October, only one month after she took the post, according to Sina news. The news agency added that Tesla CEO Elon Musk told the media that Tesla's fourth-quarter sales in China were unexpectedly weak.

The situation is not getting better in the new year; on Wednesday, Reuters, citing an anonymous source, said that Tesla only sold approximately 120 cars in China during January -- far below the company's aggressive targets.

Reuters also indicated that Musk is prepared to fire more overseas executives, as its luxury electric cars' bleak sales in China have impeded its ambitious global expansion plans.

Musk has sent emails to his top overseas executives, warning that they will face the same end as the Chinese executives if they are "not on a clear path to positive long-term cash flow", according to the Sina news report.

Tesla has vowed to lift production from an estimated 50,000 cars in 2015 to a tenfold increase of 500,000 cars by 2020, with the United States and China being its two major markets, the Reuters report said.

However, the journey to China has become extremely unpleasant. Musk said earlier that Chinese consumers have cognitive limitations on electric cars, so he has vowed to accelerate the charging facility layout in the country, a Xinhua news report said in January.

The company has built 200 super-charging stations and more than 800 destination charging stations in 70 cities spread out in China. Beginning this year, Tesla will build home charging stations for Chinese consumers, the first in the world, said the report.

As most Chinese people in the city live in multi-storey residential estates, and the few who own independent garages have yet to form a habit of charging their cars at home, electric car sales in China are not likely to pick up in the short term, some Chinese commentators said.