Over the weekend, hundreds of Tesla car owners in China descended upon the automaker’s showrooms and distribution centers to demand rebates and credits. This action was taken in response to Tesla’s recent decision to suddenly reduce prices on its electric vehicles (EVs). Many customers who had recently purchased Tesla Model Y and Model 3 vehicles were unhappy with this move, as they had believed that the prices they paid late last year would not be cut so drastically or quickly.
On Saturday, approximately 200 recent buyers of the Model Y and Model 3 gathered at a Tesla delivery center in Shanghai to protest against the company’s price cuts. Videos posted on social media also showed crowds at Tesla stores and delivery centers in other Chinese cities, including Chengdu and Shenzhen, indicating a wider consumer backlash.
Many Tesla owners who participated in the protests said they had finalized their purchases in the final months of 2022, due in part to the scheduled expiration of a government subsidy at the end of that year. However, they were frustrated with the abruptness of Friday’s price cut and Tesla’s lack of explanation to recent buyers.
After Friday’s surprise discounts, Tesla’s EV prices in China are now between 13% and 24% below their September levels. While established automakers often discount to manage inventory and keep factories running when demand weakens, Tesla operates without dealerships and transparent pricing has been part of its brand image. As a result, some Tesla owners feel that the company’s decision to reduce prices in this way is not in line with its responsible enterprise practices.
In response to the protests, police facilitated a meeting between Tesla staff and the assembled owners at which the owners presented a list of demands, including an apology and compensation or other credits. Tesla staff agreed to respond to these demands by Tuesday. Police officers were present at the Shanghai protest and at other demonstrations, as authorities have been on high alert following widespread protests in Chinese cities and top universities at the end of November against COVID-19 restrictions.