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Tesla, China Unicom partner for EV charging

Tesla Motors charging stations neat Truckee, Calif. Photo: AP

Tesla Motors and China Unicom have signed a new agreement that could help the car maker conquer the world's largest auto market.

Tesla confirmed to PCMag that the companies plan to install electric-vehicle charging stations at 400 China Unicom stores in 120 Chinese cities. Super-charging terminals will also be set up at retail outlets in 20 locations.

China Unicom did immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.
Tesla previously inked deals with Chinese property developers to build charging outlets, but this move "represents our biggest investment so far in charging facilities in China," a spokeswoman told Reuters.

She added that charging services will be available for free, and only open to Tesla vehicles. Ideally, the investment will help Tesla compete with car makers like BMW and Daimler AG, Reuters noted.

The company has a head start, thanks to Chinese businessman Yi Zong, who planted recharging stations in 16 cities between Beijing and Guangzhou. He paid for the entire 5,750-kilometer (3,573-mile) route out of his own pocket.

As of now, Tesla counts more than 200 destination charging points across China. A standing partnership with China Unicom—which provides in-car 3G connectivity service for Tesla—merely helps expand accessibility to the company's charging network.

But Tesla isn't the only one pushing energy-efficient driving solutions in China. This summer, China revealed a new plan to ensure at least 30 percent of new government-owned vehicles use alternative energy.

That proposal got a boost today, when the country announced tax breaks for those who purchase electric cars that are largely built by Chinese automakers, Reuters said. A list of 17 vehicles from 11 automakers includes models from Nissan, General Motors, and Daimler AG.

Earlier this month, Tesla Motors settled a trademark dispute in China, marking the end of an ongoing feud with local businessman Zhan Baosheng, who registered the "Tesla" trademark before the electric car maker came to China in late 2013.

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