Tesla’s China sales triple to more than $1 billion

Tesla Inc.’s revenue from China last year tripled to more than $1 billion, indicating better traction in the market Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has predicted could eventually become the company’s biggest.

China accounted for more than 15 percent of Tesla’s more than $7 billion of total revenue last year, according to a U.S. regulatory filing. Sales from the U.S. more than doubled to $4.2 billion.

After a splashy start in the world’s most populous country in 2014, the electric-car maker faced setbacks including slow deliveries, orders by customers that Musk dubbed “speculators” and concerns about charging that the CEO blamed on his local sales staff. China revenue fell by a third in 2015.

To help address driving range concerns, Tesla said it would introduce converters that allow owners to power their vehicles at state-run charging points. Worldwide, the company added 57 new stores last year and more than 200 supercharger stations. Hotel, shopping center and other destination charging points more than doubled to 4,140 locations.

Expanding the sales and charging infrastructure is significant, David Leiker, an analyst with R.W. Baird & Co., wrote in a note to clients Thursday. It rebuts bearish investors who have argued the company lacks the footprint needed to support mass production of its more-affordable Model 3 car, he said. Leiker rates the stock outperform with a price target of $368.

Tesla rose 0.4 percent to $251.08 at 9:54 a.m. in New York after jumping 1.3 percent.

Read more: Musk Reboots Tesla in China as Range Anxiety Crimps Sales

Tesla last year acquired SolarCity Inc., which had about 12,243 full-time employees as of the end of 2016, according to the Wednesday filing. Headcount plunged about 20 percent from the 15,273 workers the solar-panel installer employed a year earlier.

More than 97 percent of revenue for Tesla comes from its automotive businesses, with the rest coming from energy generation and storage. The Palo Alto, California-based company doesn’t release vehicle sales or deliveries by country.

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