Tesla vehicle orders in China fell by nearly half in May compared to April, according to internal data, as the electric car pioneer grappled with public outcry and government criticism over its handling of consumer complaints. Taken together, the developments put in doubt Tesla’s vaunted position and success in the world’s biggest electric vehicle market.
The company’s monthly net orders in China dropped to about 9,800 in May from more than 18,000 in April, according to a person with knowledge of the data. The sharp drop reflected a drastic shift in Chinese consumers’ appetite for Tesla, whose founder Elon Musk has celebrity status there. Orders spiked in January after the release of the Model Y SUV, and then slowly eased off before cratering last month. In March, Tesla had 21,000 net orders. Even on a week-over-week basis, orders so far haven’t shown any signs of recovery, this person said.