Tesla barely registers in Japan, the world's third-largest auto market
Japan Times -- Mar 04
For all of Elon Musk’s domination of the burgeoning electric vehicle business, Tesla Inc. is struggling to get traction in Japan, a market he put on a pedestal early in the automaker’s early days.

The day after taking the electric carmaker public in June 2010, the first Roadster sports cars shipped to Asia weren’t destined for Shanghai — they went to Yokohama. Four years later, the chief executive officer handed over the first Model S sedans during a splashy ceremony on the 52nd floor of a Tokyo tower.

On both occasions, Musk set the bar high, as he is wont to do. He called Japan a natural market for the Roadster, later predicting it would be Tesla’s No. 2 source of sales over time. He said during the Model S event that Tesla looked forward to the country being one of its most important markets in the world.

But the success that Musk predicted has been elusive. Tesla does not disclose how many vehicles it delivers in the country and is the only company that asks the Japan Automobile Importers Association to withhold publication of its sales figures.

An industry official with knowledge of the numbers, who asked not to be identified because of their sensitive nature, offered some rough ones: Of the imported electric vehicles bought in Japan last year, roughly 90 percent were Teslas. But this was a towering share of a teeny segment — the total purchased was just 1,378 units.

The addition of a lower-cost Model 3 — Japanese deliveries of which began last September — to Tesla’s local lineup may help spur sales in the country as it has in other markets.

Tesla is also establishing a beachhead of stores in Japan’s largest cities and building out its charging network. The company now displays its vehicles at four showrooms: two in the Tokyo-Yokohama area and one each in Osaka and Nagoya.

A more prosaic problem for Tesla is that most Japanese car owners only have one vehicle, given the lack of space for parking. As a result, some consider an exotic electric car to be too risky a purchase.

News source: Japan Times
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