Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has continually missed sales goals in China, an integral target market. According to a report from 21st Century Business Herald sourced to Bloomberg, an Ex GM China exec has been contacted in an effort to head the turnaround in the world’s largest auto market.
Ding Lei formerly served as the vice president of the state-owned automaker SAIC Motor Corporation Limited and president of Shanghai GM. He is currently working as the deputy governor of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area.
According to someone close to Mr. Lei, he has quietly resigned from the post, reports The Business Herald. His new position marks the return to China’s automotive sector where he worked for 25 years. The Shanghai Municipal Organization Department still needs to approve his resignation.
While Tesla is strongly grounded in Shanghai and enjoys incentives like free license plates from authorities, they may find a strong China head in Mr. Lei, due to his rich experience in the country’s automotive sector and a service track record with the local government.
Tesla’s upscale electric vehicle, the Model S, had projections showing China sales to rise above US sales within a year. There was a sales bottleneck in the country; however, amid concerns of insufficient charging locations, information provided by CEO Elon Musk.
Inventory levels are rising as well, as Model S units being shipped into the country are being met with a large numbers of cancelled orders. CarNewsChina – a local publication – claimed Model S inventory in China had inflated to a record level of 2,300 units, a post written in March.
Tesla is working relentlessly to install more supercharger stations in China along with promising to modify its cars to be compatible with existing domestic charging standards. Meanwhile, the automaker is internally focused in making structural changes for more efficient operations.
Due to the difficult operating climate, Tesla fired a third of its China workforce and saw resignations from three of its executives back in March.
With the local experience of Mr. Lei, Tesla will have the tools to solve the unique problems that the Chinese electric car market provides. The Ex China exec will also provide a strong hand in negotiating with the public sector over programs that favor Chinese automakers over foreign automakers.