Tesla Pulls Back Zero Down Payment Sales in China Three Days After Offering It

On November 1, Tesla announced that it will sell its cars with zero down payment leasings in China. For a company that claims to have a massive demand for its vehicles, the move made no sense at all. Yet, on November 4, Tesla's Chinese website stopped offering that leasing option.
Tesla Offers Zero Percent Down Payment Leasing and Pulls It Back Three Days Later 8 photos
Photo: Tesla
Tesla Offers Zero Percent Down Payment Leasing and Pulls It Back Three Days LaterTesla Offers Zero Percent Down Payment Leasing and Pulls It Back Three Days LaterTesla Giga ShanghaiTesla Giga ShanghaiTesla FremontTesla FremontTesla Fremont
According to the Chinese websites Sina and Caijing, the down payment you can do to lease a Tesla vehicle in China is now 10%. Caijing tried to get an explanation for the change from Tesla and did not receive any reply so far. China is one of the only countries in which the EV maker still has a PR department.

Sina and Caijing managed to contact representatives from Tesla Financial Leasing and heard back the same story: the reason for the 0% option to be canceled was that it was increasing delivery time. If the demand was already high, wasn’t this more than expected? Let's face it: it was the desired outcome in the first place.

When the 0% leasing option started, Tesla shared its conditions on Chinese social media with the same care we see in advertisements. Ironically, that’s something Tesla also brags about not having. All demand for its cars would come exclusively from word of mouth.

The way this all unfolded gives the impression that Tesla simply does not plan. Like the Joker, it would just do things without planning (or so he said). Another option is that Tesla China thought it was a great idea to increase sales in that market (instead of exporting most of its production), and someone in the U.S. told them to stop immediately to preserve the story that demand is higher than ever.

The Hertz deal sent the same message: demand would not be as high as Tesla likes to say it is. This was another mess: first, Musk said Tesla sold all cars to Hertz at no discounts, which would not make sense for most rental companies, especially in such a high volume.

Later, he tweeted that no contract had been signed to sell 100,000 EVs to Hertz – despite all the money it spent hiring Tom Brady and informing the market about it. If the deal was not signed, why would Hertz risk its reputation doing that?

Automakers in need of reaching higher production and sales numbers are the ones that offer 0% down payment leasings and sell thousands of vehicles to a single customer. Rental companies also help them buy market share. Tesla did both things in a very short time interval. If its reasons are not these, perhaps the company should care to explain them.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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