Tesla Doing Things Differently With Model X

Tesla has started accepting orders for its Model X in China and will begin deliveries in the second quarter. This means that customers in the largest auto market will get access to the new SUV before it debuts in Europe.

Tesla Model X in China before Europe

On Tuesday, Tesla announced the China schedule on its website and said it will also offer a limited edition Signature Red version of the Model X P90D for 1.48 million Yuan ($225,000). For Chinese buyers, red is the color of celebration, and the Chinese New Year begins Feb. 8.

In 2013, the U.S. firm started delivering the Model S in key European countries, while in China, it started deliveries in April 2014. Tesla’s website states that the price range for the standard 90D will be about $146,000 to $178,000, and a reservation fee of $15,000 will be required as well.

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Tesla says on its website that its focus is entirely on the safety and high-efficiency particulate air filter of the Model X which not only blocks contamination but also bacteria and viruses from the polluted air. Pollution has become a major issue in cities such as Beijing because of smog from vehicle emissions and coal-fired power plants.

Why China?

The China rollout of the Model S sedan got off to a rocky start, but despite that, the company intends to take advantage of the nation’s SUV market as demand is too high for luxury models. Last year, about 21 million light vehicles were sold in China with German brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominating the premium segment, says Bloomberg.

In a telephone interview, a strategic adviser on the Asian auto market, Michael Dunne, told Bloomberg, “This is Tesla’s opportunity to establish the brand. Tesla’s success in China will hinge on its ability to establish that it is a distinctive, alluring and exceptional brand to own. With the Model S they struggled.”

In September, the U.S. firm held a splashy event where CEO Elon Musk introduced the SUV. Despite a backlog of thousands of orders, in the fourth quarter, the EV firm delivered only 208 Model Xs–well below analysts’ projections.