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Tesla Motors strikes a deal to build 400 charging stations in China

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Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A Tesla model S car with an electric vehicle charging station on display during a media preview day at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year. Tesla has committed to building 400 electric car charging stations in China, where plugin sales have been hampered by a lack of charging options.

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The Chinese market has become vital for many global automakers.

For some, it's a haven of high sales numbers to offset struggles in markets like the U.S. and Europe. To others, like Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], it's a way to promote your product to a vast and growing marketplace.

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Tesla has made a big commitment to China and is backing that up with a new deal to set up 400 new charging stations across the country.

According to Bloomberg, Tesla is working with China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile communications carrier, to build 400 charging points across 120 cities at China Unicom outlets.

In addition, the automaker has plans for another 20 Supercharger fast-charge stations for China's growing base of Model S owners.

Charging is proving to be an early sticking point for electric car buyers in China, the country relatively under-supplied to meet potential demand.

There's also confusion over the ideal charging standard in the country. There is no communication standard in use, meaning that even if someone has the right connector--and there's no guarantee of that with no connection standard either--their vehicle may not be compatible.

Some have taken the charging issue into their own hands. In July, a Model S-owning businessman named Zong Yi paid for the installation of 16 charging stations along a 3,750-mile route from Beijing to Guangzhou.

Zong used social media to choose the best locations for each station and queried property owners about installation along the route--close to hotels and free parking sites.

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Those 16 stations will be usable by any electric vehicle, and Tesla's non-Supercharger stations will be too--though only Tesla owners will be able to charge for free.

Tesla isn't the first automaker to set up a charging network in the country however. Back in May,BMW announced its own plans to set up a network of chargers with power company State Grid.

The German firm says China "will become the largest market for [electromobility] in a few years" and intends to make the most of potential demand early on.

For Chinese buyers, the input of electric automakers can only improve the prospect of running a plug-in vehicle in the country.