Tesla to fire 30% of staff in China due to poor sales

Half of Tesla's sales jobs will be cut in China as sales only meet a quarter of what Elon Musk expected.
Written by Liu Jiayi, Contributor

Struggling with sluggish sales that failed Elon Musk's expectations, American electric carmaker Tesla is to dismiss 30 percent of its 600-person China team, local newspaper the Economic Observer reported on March 6.

(Image: Tesla)
The widespread dismissal started before February 17, Chinese New Year, and continued after employees came back from holidays.

"Now, only departments responsible for technical support and charging post network haven't heard any bad news; all other major departments such as sales, marketing, public relations, and administration are all slashing jobs," said an anonymous source from Tesla who is a mid-level manager. "More than 50 percent of people from sales will be gone.

"Many of the colleagues are on 'temporary leave', but they are in reality 'forced to resign'," the source told the Observer. "People are all very nervous, since they don't know when it will come to their turn."

According to another senior employee at the company, the order came from high above, and the reason is very simple: Sales didn't meet expectations.

Statistics from the country's imported vehicle database shows that in 2014, Tesla imported 4,800 cars, and yet, only 2,499 of them have been registered with a plate number. Tesla estimated that the sales would be over 10,000 in China for 2014.

Meanwhile, Tesla has also stopped recruiting new staff members in the area, as its official site shows that although its North American and European branches are still recruiting, there are no vacancies in China anymore.

Zhang Zhiyong, an industry analyst, said that the company is paying the price for its overly ambitious expansion strategy in the Chinese markets during recent years. He argued that customers are not ready to pay extra for an environmentally friendly brand, which, in their minds, is less famous and luxurious than other existing competitors.

"Tesla's unique halo is almost gone now, and it faces a tougher road ahead," Zhang remarked.

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