Tesla opened an official virtual store on China's Tmall site last week, as the US electric vehicle manufacturer continues its efforts to expand its share of the world's largest vehicle market. 

Tmall is a leading business to consumer e-commerce platform owned by internet giant Alibaba Group, providing vital exposure to Chinese consumers at a time of social distancing due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Tesla has enjoyed a strong start to the year in China following the launch of the locally made Model 3 at the end of December, with sales amounting to 16,700 units in the first quarter of the year across all models – including a record 10,160 units in March alone – which the company said was equivalent to 30% of total battery power vehicle sales in the country.

Tesla said it aimed to produce up to 150,000 Model 3s in China this year.

Potential customers on the Tesla Tmall showroom can reserve test drives of the Model S, X and 3 vehicles and purchase accessories.

To help launch the site, the US carmaker will launch an eight day live streaming campaign on 21 April in which it is expected to donate car models for children, 48 hours of test driving rights for the Model 3 and coupons for charging services.