Tesla Model S

Big seller or Franken-vehicle? Analysts are pondering this question as Tesla Motors prepares to open its first mainland China showroom in Beijing later this year (a Hong Kong service center was opened in 2011) and start sales in the world's largest automotive market, the San Jose Mercury News says. LMC Automotive's Mike Omotoso and Brannan Auto Engineering's Charlie Paglee forecast big numbers for Tesla because of two factors: more Chinese looking to buy status symbols for their increasing wealth and the willingness for some citizens to show concern for China's growing environmental issues buy owning an electric vehicle.

Not everyone agrees. Litchfield Hills Research's Theodore O'Neill called Tesla's entry in China a big risk because of the possibility of Chinese automakers reverse-engineering the Model S by taking one apart and rebuilding a similar version under a Chinese car badge. Tesla chief Elon Musk himself has called China a "wild card" of sorts, and the company hasn't put out any forecasts for the country. Tesla did tap former Bentley China executive Kingston Chang to be the company's general manager in China. Tesla will open its first Beijing showroom in Parkview Green Mall, China's first mixed-use development to get LEED-Platinum certified for its environmentally friendly design, so it's off to a green start.