Tesla is the latest entrant in the Carpool Karaoke Contest

Chinese consumers gave Tesla a standing ovation on Friday Inc.,

TSLA 2.08%

a new seller of karaoke microphones for singing in cars.

The Austin, Texas-based company ran out of TeslaMic less than an hour after it began offering the cordless product for $188 a pair on its official Chinese website.

The microphones work with a Tesla software update released Friday in China that includes karaoke tracks and videos in the style of those featured in karaoke booths.

The complete system with video is designed for use by people sitting in a Tesla car when it’s not moving, replacing a karaoke booth when relaxing after a day of travel or taking a roadside break.

Tesla faces fierce competition in karaoke-mad land from other EV makers, several of which have beaten Tesla to market with similar in-car karaoke software and hardware combinations.

Singing karaoke is one of the most popular pastimes in China among singers and deaf people. Before the pandemic, solo karaoke booths sprouted in Chinese malls, libraries and airports, until the coronavirus put a damper on activities in public places.

About 500 million people used online karaoke services in China last year, according to research firm iiMedia Research Group.

The TeslaMic “gives you a mobile private karaoke room, allowing you to stroll through the sea of ​​music and sing along to your heart’s content,” reads a description on the company’s website.

A notice on the website says customers who missed their chance to buy a TeslaMic Friday will likely have to wait until the end of February.

A video on Tesla’s official social media account shows a young couple, each holding a TeslaMic, singing a Chinese ballad titled “Little Happiness” inside a parked car at a campsite.

Although a pioneer in electric vehicles, Tesla is catching up in karaoke.

Chinese EV makers like Warren Buffett backed by BYD Co.

1211 -9.02%

and Xpeng Inc.

XPEV -1.41%

have advertised extensively for their karaoke setups, including software to simulate the experience of singing in a karaoke bar and devices such as microphones and headphones.

“I was quite jealous that BYD owners could sing karaoke in their cars,” said Jiang Xin, 49, a Tesla Model Y owner.

Mr. Jiang’s friend Kevin Xu, 42, owns a BYD and likes to sing inside the car with the doors closed and the windows rolled up. “It’s a good way to alleviate boredom during a trip,” Xu said. “And you’re not going to be heard at all.”

Today’s cars offer high-tech features and gather troves of data to train algorithms. As China tightens controls on new technologies, the WSJ examines the risks for Tesla and other global brands that are now required to keep data in the country. Screenshot: Tesla China

This isn’t the first time Tesla has tried karaoke. A few years ago, it included a feature called Caraoke in software for global users that plays songs and displays song lyrics on the control panel. However, this offer did not include karaoke-style videos or Tesla-branded hardware such as microphones.

Tesla’s promotional video shows that its software comes from a Beijing-based karaoke service provider, Thunderstone Technology Ltd., which provides music videos. Thunderstone’s system is already present in several other local electric vehicle brands in China.

“The space inside a car provides users with great privacy, making it an ideal location for karaoke,” a Thunderstone spokeswoman said. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Tesla operates an electric vehicle factory in Shanghai and sold more than 470,000 cars made at the plant last year, according to the China Passenger Car Association, about half of its global total.

This month the company drew criticism after opening a showroom in the Xinjiang region where the government’s treatment of predominantly Muslim minorities drew international condemnation.

Tesla and China

More WSJ coverage from the automaker, as selected by editors.

Write to Yang Jie at [email protected]

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