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Reports that Tesla’s vehicle sales in China plunged by 70 percent last month is “misleading information” because of the opaque and not always accurate sales numbers coming out of China, Freeman Shen, chief executive at China’s electric vehicle maker WM Motor, told CNBC on Wednesday.
Tesla’s sales in China nosedived by 70 percent in October in the latest demonstration of the adverse impact the U.S.-Chinese trade war is having on business. The news, from the Chinese passenger car association as reported by Reuters, came a few days after Tesla said that it planned to cut its prices for the Chinese market.
China is a key market for Tesla where it plans to build a gigafactory, and last month it only sold 211 cars there, according to the association’s data.
WM Motor’s Shen told CNBC on Wednesday that Chinese car sales numbers are always “kind of a mystery” because data is collected through several channels. One is the China Passenger Car Association—from which Reuters received the information about Tesla’s October sales—which sends out a questionnaire to companies and they report their sales “at free will”.
“You can report any number you want,” Shen said.
Another channel for car sales was the license registrar which, however, stopped reporting data four or five years ago. The third channel is data from insurance companies, which is much more accurate but there is a two-month lag in reporting, the Chinese auto executive told CNBC.
Referring to the car sales from the Chinese Passenger Car Association, Shen said: “I doubt that number because, as a person who has been working in the Chinese auto industry for many years …the Chinese Passenger Car Association is not always accurate.”
“So I will suggest people should not comment based on that number,” the executive noted.
In an email to Barron’s on Tuesday, a Tesla spokesman disputed the report of the 70-percent sales plunge, saying that the numbers obtained from an official at the Chinese Passenger Car Association are “wildly inaccurate” and “off by a significant margin.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.