Tesla opened its latest store in San Jose, Calif., at the Santana Row mall, which previews a new concept in selling cars for the company. Rather than maintain large buildings with many cars on the lot, Tesla will open these small-footprint stores in areas with high foot traffic, such as shopping malls. Visitors can talk to a sales consultant and purchase a car in the store.
This concept works for Tesla partially because the company currently only has one type of vehicle for sale. The company expects to transition from the Roadster, as productions ceases on that model in 2012, to the Model S, its more practical luxury sedan electric vehicle.
A major aspect of the store is education. Touch-screen displays let visitors read about the technology in the car and view videos from Tesla Roadster owners. Tesla will also make information available about the Model S as it becomes available, generating interest in the new model.
Two Design Studio stations let prospective buyers design their car, much as they might do on Tesla's Web site. In the store, there are samples of body panels in the different colors available.
Tesla keeps examples of the four different wheels it makes available for the Roadster on display in the store, so customers can see the real thing.
Other than buying an actual car, visitors can get their hands on Tesla merchandise.
In a parking garage behind the store, Tesla keeps a dedicated area for its test-drive cars. A 70-amp charging stations keep the batteries full, and sales consultants can take prospective buyers out for a spin.