Tesla has reported that it is cutting jobs in China, with local papers suggesting that as many as 180 of its 600 employees in the country will be let go. A spokesperson for the electric car manufacturer confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that the cuts were taking place, but would not say how many jobs were being lost. "We’re not just leaving. We’re trying to serve the market," said Tesla spokesperson Gary Tao. "Some people will go."
Tesla sold fewer than 2,500 cars in China last year
The cuts may be small on the global scale — Tesla nearly doubled its staff in 2014 to more than 10,000 — but they follow a bad year in China. It was thought that the country could be a prosperous market for Tesla considering Chinese citizens' taste for luxury cars and the country's problems with pollution. Sales, however, have not been good. The WSJ reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk wanted to sell 5,000 cars in China last year to consider the launch a success. Instead, according to data compiled by JL Warren Capital, the company registered just under 2,500 cars since it started selling to customers in April 2014.
Challenges for Tesla in China include simply getting charging stations installed. The vast majority of China's urban population lives in multi-family, low-rise housing, which complicates the installation of home charging stations. Musk has blamed the company's slow start in China on the lack of charging support, but Tesla also faces corporate challenges. Last year saw the departure of a number of Tesla China executives including former president Veronica Wu and former vice president of communications June Jin. The company is currently planning to revive its fortunes in China with the launch of its electric SUV, the Tesla Model X, this summer.