Alice N. Sanders
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Tesla Jumps to Record After China Charging Network Accord

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) rose to a record after the electric-car maker led by Elon Musk reached an agreement to create a vehicle-charging network in China with the country’s second-largest mobile-phone company.

The shares advanced 2.2 percent to $269.70 in New York, the highest closing price since the Palo Alto, California-based company’s June 2010 initial public offering. The stock has traded at or near all-time highs through most of this month.

The automaker, which began selling its Model S sedan in China in April, signed an accord today with China United Network Communications Corp. to build 400 charging points in 120 cities at China Unicom (762) outlets, Tesla spokeswoman Peggy Yang said in a telephone interview. The companies will also build 20 rapid-charge stations that work as much as 16 times faster, she said.

Tesla, which operates dozens of its own Supercharger stations in North America and Europe, joins Bayerische Motoren Werke AG in adding public chargers in China to improve convenience for electric-vehicle owners. The central government is considering providing as much as 100 billion yuan($16 billion) to expand charging facilities and spur demand for clean cars, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Tesla also has agreements with real estate developers Soho China Ltd. (410) and China Yantai Holdings Co. to set up charging points at their properties around the nation.

Today’s deal calls for Tesla to supply equipment for the charging stations and for China Unicom to provide the land, Yang said. She declined to reveal the cost. Tesla customers will be able to charge their cars for free at the stations, Yang said.

Musk, 43, has said Tesla’s sales in China may match its U.S. business as early as 2015. The rise in the company’s share price boosted its market capitalization to $33.6 billion, ranking it between Nissan Motor Co. at $43.4 billion and Kia Motors Corp. at $24.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.