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Tesla’s Big Plan to Stop Failing in China Shows Elon Musk’s Arrogance

As the time ticks away toward Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit with Obama, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) is scrambling. They are not meeting their sales goals in China, and they are not even close. This is because while Elon Musk has mastered space travel and has high hopes for a (I’ll admit, incredibly cool) “Hyperloop” subway system, he keeps running into a little problem: China doesn't give one single sh*t about how “cool” Tesla is.

Granted, the situation is more complicated than that. China has very arcane rules on what types of cars can be sold in their country. Also, they basically require you to give up your patent if you want to produce anything there. Telling Elon Musk to give up a patent is like telling LeBron James he needs to start coming off the bench. Even if it’s ultimately good for the team, some people’s egos are too big to accept that.

Musk is not used to playing second fiddle to anyone. He successfully convinced the US government to give him 5 billion dollars to produce Teslas, for crying out loud. He must feel like he’s untouchable. So, when he runs into a problem like he has in China, his plan is to double down on what made him so successful in the first place: Lobbying the U.S. government harder than an NRA supporter’s junk while watching Rambo.

Musk’s only hope is to get Obama to put serious pressure on Jinping with regards to their policy on imported cars. While this is an admirable gambit, it’s not hard to see how desperate it is. China has slightly bigger problems to deal with, like their currency fluctuation and the complete destabilization of their entire economy. Something makes me think cowtailing to some Silicon Valley playboy isn’t high on their list.

Musk’s cause is also hurt by the fact that China could care less about clean energy and sustainability. They have rivers that make the BP Oil spill look like routine manufacturing hiccup. 

China is not a place that is very concerned with their population driving gas powered cars.

If Tesla can’t make it work in China, what does that mean for the company? No one can say, but it’s probably not good. Elon better hope he can convince President Trump to let SpaceX build the electric towers that are going to line our border with Mexico.