Tesla already started deliveries for the Model X in China back in June, and prior to the market introduction of the all-electric SUV, the vehicle was already proven to be popular in the country with reportedly over 3,000 reservations in mainland China.
Now we learn that some customers are not willing to wait and prefer to buy the vehicle directly on the ‘gray market’, even though it comes with serious setbacks and a decent premium.
Forbes‘ Tycho De Feijter explains ‘gray markets’:
“Grey market import, also called parallel import, is the practice whereby a car is traded outside the official distribution system of a brand. In China most grey market import is in the hands of dealers in port cities, buying from traders and dealers on the U.S. West Coast.”
For gray import Tesla buyer in China, it means having an English interface, not having access to navigation since Tesla’s US fleet uses Google Map and Tesla’s China fleet uses NavInfo, no warranty, and it can also create a problem for charging.
Tesla reportedly uses the European standard plug for its Chinese charging networks, Superchargers and Destination chargers, and if the cars are imported from the US, they will be equipped with the US standard plug.
Audi found out about it the hard way when they imported a Tesla Model X from the US to Germany, presumably for benchmarking or reverse-engineering.
Though Tesla has been pushing for a Chinese charging standard and the automaker said it would offer an adapter for all current owners.
Despite all those issues, the gray market for the Model X is reportedly popular and some are willing to pay a premium. The Model X P90D costs 1.15 million yuan or $170,000 USD in China, yet Forbes talked to a gray market dealer selling them for as much as 1.58 million yuan or $240,000 USD – a 40% premium.
The dealer said that he already sold several units, adding that all his red units are sold out and that he only has a few white ones left.
Pictures from the launch of the Model X in China:
A similar situation arose with the introduction of the Model S in China back in 2014. Dealers speculated and ordered a lot of Model S units hoping to sell them for a premium during Tesla’s launch in the country. Tesla later complained that it slowed the company’s own sales and affected the perception of the automaker in the country due to the previously mentioned problems with parallel imported vehicles.
Problems that vehicles bought directly from Tesla don’t have, but ordering right now generally means a ~3-month wait.