2012 Tesla Model SEnlarge Photo
With Tesla having announced the price of its Model S electric car in China yesterday, one question remained unanswered: What name would the cars actually be sold under?
As of this week, the company can now legally use the brand name "Tesla" on its cars--which it had not previously been able to do.
According to a Reuters article today, the company won the rights to its trademark in a Chinese court.
The Tesla name had been trademarked back in 2006 by a local businessman, Zhan Baosheng, before its first electric Roadster even went on sale in the U.S.
Website of 'Tesla Motors China', Aug 2013Enlarge Photo
Baosheng had put up a minimal website for "Tesla Motors China" with photos of another vehicle, and hinted in the press that he was open to offers to sell the name back to Tesla for many millions of dollars.
Tesla's vice president for China, Veronica Wu, told Reuters that the company had won the right to use its name in court and had not had to pay Baosheng.
"We went to court and won," she said.
As of this week, the company's stores now carry the name "Te Si La," which is the Chinese transliteration most familiar to Chinese consumers.
Previously, Tesla had fielded suggestions that it use other names if it could not prevail over Baosheng.
The company believes that China will be one of its largest global markets, though wealthy buyers are expected to desire the Model S for its luxury brand and technology more than its environmental benefits.
Luxury cars have done well in China, with buyers snapping up as many Audis, Bentleys, BMWs, and Mercedes-Benzes as they can get their hands on.
The country's notoriously value-sensitive consumers, however, have shown little enthusiasm for plug-in electric cars, although the government is working to encourage their use with heavy incentives.
China's power grid remains among the dirtiest in the world, however, which largely negates the environmental benefits of an electric car.
[hat tip: Brian Henderson]