Tesla surprises fleets with subsidy return request two years after purchase on insufficient mileage
While major Chinese electric vehicle makers like NIO or XPeng warn their corporate customers upfront about the conditions they have to fulfil in order to obtain and keep government subsidies, Tesla simply asked for the money back two years after the purchase. Since the red-hot Chinese EV market is growing leaps and bounds, the number of corporate fleets with Tesla cars like the Model 3 keeps growing as well.
In order to prevent fraudulent payouts to fleet cars driven as private vehicles, the Chinese government set a mileage requirement on such purchases in order to qualify for the subsidy. At first the minimum threshold corporate vehicles had to cover in order to qualify was 30,000 km (18,641 miles) driven over the course of two years, but then the state lowered the ask down to 20,000 km under the same conditions.
Some carmakers state these requirements explicitly in the purchase contract, and even then they simply eat the difference for those fleets which haven't covered the required mileage. In Tesla's purchase contracts, however, the subsidy clause simply advises buyers to acquaint themselves with the government's rules and regulation of fleets on their own.
Thus, some of the first Model 3 fleet customers in China are now past the two-year period and were surprised to receive a subsidy reimbursement message from Tesla which states there were clauses in the contract detailing the government largesse rules. According to them, the purchase contract's subsidy conditions were insufficiently explained, unlike contracts with NIO or XPeng. Here's the subsidy repayment message that Tesla China started sending to its corporate customers, saying it was all in the contract for a Catch 22 of a conundrum:
Because your company purchased a Tesla vehicle and failed to meet the total miles driven condition within the timeframe set by state policy, your company's vehicle has been conclusively confirmed to be unable to receive a settlement of the state subsidy. According to the contract, the subsidy already enjoyed by your company in the purchase price was advanced by our company, and your company now needs to make a supplementary payment of that amount to our company. You can view the purchase contract on your My Tesla account, which contains the exact amount of the subsidy and the related obligation to make the additional payment.