Published September 21, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
Tesla Motors is on a mission to expand its dealership network as it continues also its goal of "revolutionizing the auto purchasing experience." As such, this fall, Tesla is opening 10 new U.S. locations at which point it will have 24 in North America and 34 worldwide.
The first of these new stores is opening today at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, NY. Tesla's unique – and somewhat controversial – retail concept is an attempt to reinvent how cars are sold.
Kind of like an Apple Store for Teslas, the company says its locations demonstrate the benefits of driving electric with enticing visuals, interactive displays, and design studios where customers can design their own Tesla Model S on a large touchscreen and then view it on an 85-inch video wall.
"All retail locations have Tesla's Model S premium sedan on display, and many have dedicated test-drive vehicles where we will offer customers the opportunity to experience the exhilarating performance and superior handling of Model S," said George Blankenship, vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience who previously was an innovative marketer for the Gap and most famously for Apple computers. "As we open locations throughout the country, our approach continues to be geared towards engaging and informing more people about Tesla and Model S and the technology behind it. Customers can walk into a no-pressure environment, ask questions and engage with informative product specialists to learn more about the many advantages of going electric. We know we've done our job when customers leave smiling."
Also smiling must be Blankenship in what has to be a dream job for him. He gets Tesla's full backing to help it play maverick and give his best shot at showing Detroit it knows a better way to sell cars. And, well into his career, he does not have to re-learn so many old school automotive marketing rules, but gets a fairly free hand at applying his chutzpah-laden merchandising style that worked for jeans and computers and now is being applied to selling automobiles.
And he and Tesla are staying busy too. One week following the opening of Roosevelt Field, Tesla plans to open its first location in the Boston area at Natick Mall, followed by the opening of a second store in the Chicago area at Westfield Old Orchard.
Additional locations are planned in October and November at Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, New Jersey; The Mall at Short Hills, Morristown, New Jersey; Westfield University Town Center, San Diego, California; Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida; Tyson's Corner, McLean, Virginia and Westfield Topanga, Topanga, California.
Tesla will also open its first Canadian store at the Yorkdale Shopping Center in Toronto, Ontario in November.
Tesla says it will continue to expand its retail network into 2013, supporting the mission to engage and inform people about Tesla and driving electric.
Tesla also said more than 12,200 reservations have been made worldwide for its Model S through July 2012.