Tesla Motors UK is looking to expand its reach across the UK with new dealerships following the launch of its first right-hand drive models.
The electric car company has now launched RHD versions of its Model S in the UK priced from Tesla from £50,280, including, the £5,000 government plug-in grant.
Tesla has rejected the traditional franchised dealership model preferring to own all of its retail centres across the world rather than partner with a franchisee.
George Ell, country director for the UK & Ireland, told AM that the major cities of the UK would be the first focus for expansion, with Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow the obvious candidates. The full network could extend to six retail locations in the UK.
Tesla currently has a retail presence in London at Westfield shopping centre and a separate service location at Acton.
Ell said the brand would consider establishing more dealerships within retail shopping centre locations. He also said Tesla would consider operating from a more traditional showroom style location depending on the location.
Tesla wants to control the ownership experience for customers from start to finish and believes this is necessary due to the amount of time each is dedicated to each customer.
All Tesla sales are completed online whether customers are physically in the showroom or whether they choose to purchase at home.
Tesla has sold 25,000 units of its Model S globally and is expected to increase its volumes over the next five years with the addition of a Model X crossover and then its entry level hatch Model E. Elon Musk, Tesla chief executive, is intending to reach the mass market with the Model E in the future and believes the UK could be the brand's top market in Europe.
Customers can buy service plans for the Model S which covers servicing for four years/50,000 miles. Every Model S will have an annual inspection and the servicing on moving parts is minimal with replacement parts like brake pads and windshield wipers. The Model S has the ability to receive updates remotely which update the car with new features (a creep mode for the automatic gearbox was sent out remotely last year).
Tesla is offering free supercharging for life on the mid and top trims of the Model S which means customers can have unlimited use of Tesla’s supercharging network which can recharge the car fully in 1 hour 10 minutes or to 50% in 20 minutes.
The brand is planning to cover Dover to Bristol, the M25, the South of England and north along the M1 with a supercharger network in the next three months. It is then planning to have superchargers to cover England before the end of this year and the whole of the UK and Ireland in before the end of 2015.
Tesla has run into problems with its dealer network in the US after its was banned by certain states from selling directly to customers for fears that it was 'threatening a free market' by cutting franchised dealers out of the retail process.
Ell said it was unlikely Tesla would experience the same issue in the UK.
AM will have feature an in depth analysis piece on Tesla, including an interview with George Ell in the July 25 issue of AM.
Tesla's London showroom launch