Tesla Looks to Put Charge Into Car Sales
With a $109,000 electric roadster, it’s clear that Tesla
is not your typical American car manufacturer. The Tesla difference, however,
goes beyond the product line. For one, the company plans to operate its own
dealerships. For another, those stores are being designed by the man behind
the Apple Store. While most expect something exciting from the latter point,
not everyone is sure what to make of the former.
David Zoia, editorial director
for WardsAuto.com, told the San Jose
Mercury News, “Company-owned stores is a concept that hasn’t worked
all that well in the auto industry. It seems the independent dealerships do
a better job of selling cars because the motivation of their sales force
is much stronger than at company-owned stores, where your job isn’t based
solely on commission and usually you’re not trying to build your business
like an independent dealership is.”
As to the Apple Store reference,
Tesla recently hired George Blankenship as its vice president of design and
store development. Apple’s former retail guru has been brought on to help
Tesla capture the same magic with consumers as the maker of the iPhone, iPod,
iPad and Mac.
“The Apple stores worked,” Mr. Blankeship told the Mercury News, “because
we were able to explain to customers why these products would change the world.
Fast-forward to Tesla, where you have proven game-changing technology that
hardly anyone knows about. We need to get people in front of these cars and tell
them the Tesla story.”
Tesla currently has 13 company-owned stores across
the globe and plans to open four other locations this year. Eventually, Tesla
is looking to grow to 50 locations as it expands beyond its roadster with the
launch of the company’s Model S sedan scheduled for 2012.
Mr. Blankenship told
the Mercury News that customers can expect continued
service from the Tesla Rangers, a service program that includes house calls.
Discussion Questions: How critical is the store environment to whether
or not consumers purchase a car? Is the time right for Tesla and will
George Blankenship be the difference between success and failure for the electric