For Tesla, Ell said, it’s more about awareness and customer choice. If a customer wants to order a new car, they go through the same process on the website with a product specialist as they would if they were ordering at home.
Motor finance is provided by a third party supplier.
“We’re really a tech company at heart,” said Ell. “This concept of being able to buy online and then visit a store if you want to really has its roots with tech companies and that’s something we wanted to replicate in the automotive retail world.”
Tesla wants to get away from its retail environments being a pressured sales environment.
“We really like the high-footfall traffic environment that a shopping centre like Westfield gives us,” said Ell. “It introduces the cars to a wider public and because Model S is new and people have questions about it, we feel it’s important to control that ourselves.
“We want to really control that customer education experience. We want all customers to get the Tesla smile when they first learn about the car and the performance.”
Tesla believes it needs to take more time with customers, time it thinks franchised dealers can’t afford to spend.
US dealers are fighting Tesla on direct sales
Franchised dealers in Texas, Arizona and New Jersey have all achieved bans of direct sales in their states and its dealer body has launched a promotional campaign to promote the franchised industry.
NADA made the argument to US governors that by Tesla selling directly to consumers, the brand was ‘threatening a free market’.
Ell said: “In certain states in the US, we’ve had to change our approach, but we continue to believe in a direct model.
“We don’t have these problems anywhere else in the world and I think those dealerships are on the wrong side of history in trying to fight it.”
He said he does not envisage the same problem occurring in the UK.
The waiting time for a right-hand drive Model S is five months, with every car built to order.
Customers going ahead with the purchase after a 14-day cooling off period are introduced to a delivery experience specialist. They help customers think through all the aspects of ownership, including charging and planning ahead for how the car will be used in their everyday life.
They also communicate dates and times for deliveries and spend as much time with the customer on handover day as necessary. Ell said the average handover time is about three hours.
“People often bring their friends and family along and make a day or afternoon of it. It’s a real event,” he said.
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Stewart - 06/09/2014 10:00
With the attitude this company has I trust that will be spectacularly unsuccessful in the UK
Mike - 06/04/2017 13:14
I could not agree more