The Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Ownership Experience at Tesla Motors, Mr. George Blankenship, sums it up as “I hope we never sell a car here.” Quite a surprising remark from one of the top honchos of one of the most electrifying alternative fuel carmakers in the world today.
The new showroom is located at the upscale shopping mall the Westchester. Blankenship further adds, “Our goal instead is to interact with people when they’re looking at new things in the mall and not necessarily in the market for a car. The focus is on answering the many questions they have about electric vehicles and the Tesla Model S.”
This is the company’s seventh such showroom and the first one on the East Coast. Other outlets include Seattle, WA, Denver, CO, Chicago, IL and Houston, TX together with Orange Country and San Jose CA. These stores have already 600,000 visitors to all these stores in the past year.
The centerpieces of the Westchester outlet are the Tesla Model S prototypes on display, each in differing colors. The stores can provide showroom services such as authorize sales and have test driving activities, but the approach is quite the opposite. Blankenship’s previous work includes opening Apple stores and Gap stores, thus the inspiration for these Tesla outlets.
The model was Apple’s way of getting people to move from outright refusal to a recognition how Apple products such as iPods or Mac computers are important in their personal lives. The VP adds, “Today, people don’t know much about electric vehicles, so it’s our job to educate them about the advantages of this cutting-edge technology. We want to get to the point where people really want a Model S, so we won’t have to sell them.”
The experience in these Tesla outlets includes multiple touch-screen interfaces on information such as battery life, driving range, charging and carbon emissions. The screen also would have configurations that would allow store visitors to visualize the possible purchases in different colors and interior choices. Currently, the Model S starts at U.S. $57,400 before tax credits and the Signature Performance model is currently priced at U.S. $105,400.
Currently, the Model S has 10,000 orders and the waiting list is sold out through 2012. A car ordered now can be delivered at the earliest by the middle of 2013. The store would also have traditional branded items such as jackets, water bottles and remote control models of the Roadster. The cars still remain to be the attraction and store visitors to rear seat legroom and play music with the vehicle’s seventeen inch display screen.