Elon Musk, Tesla Motors’ (TSLA) chief executive, has big hopes for China, a country that should be a natural for his electronic cars. The world’s largest auto market has notoriously awful smog problems, and the Chinese government has made the pollution fight one of its top priorities. Last month, for instance, China’s State Council agreed to exempt electric cars (as well as plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles) from the 10 percent tax normally assessed on new autos. And the government on July 13 said electric cars would make up at least 30 percent of its vehicle purchases by 2016.!
That creates opportunities for Tesla. China is “genuinely committed to electric cars,” Musk said during a call with analysts last month. “It’s not just about favoring local manufacturers.”!
There’s been one problem: While Tesla Motors started Chinese deliveries of the Model S in April, the Palo Alto (Calif.) carmaker was proceeding without certainty that it had rights to its name in the country. A Chinese businessman running a skin-care company had registered the rights before Musk and his team.