We have recently been reporting on Tesla’s retail expansion, which aims to open one new location every 4 days until the end of the year and to increase its total presence to 450 locations by the time the Model 3 hits the market in 2017.
Now we learn that in addition to the expansion, Tesla is rethinking its retail model and the automaker could soon launch a “drastically” different redesign of its retail concept.
Tesla’s vice president of North American sales and one of the company’s top three sales people, Ganesh Srivats, gave an interview to Fast Company in which he referenced the upcoming change. The magazine wrote:
Srivats says that Tesla will soon drastically redesign its retail concept, but offers few details: “We’re throwing preconceived notions of auto sales out the window and starting from the ground up.” Whatever the plan, it’s sure to leave automakers charged up.”
The whole article focused on Tesla’s ongoing battles for the right to sell its vehicles directly to consumers in a few US states that still don’t allow the practice.
Srivats reiterated the company’s line that franchise dealerships would not work for Tesla:
“We knew we couldn’t rely on dealerships to promote our mission, to operate the business the way we wanted to, to provide this great customer experience,” he explains. “So we’ve really had to chart our own course.”
In the past, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that while company-owned stores are the way to go now, the automaker would eventually consider going with dealerships once it can achieve a higher volume of production, but that was back in 2013 and it looks like going with the third-party model is becoming less and less likely for Tesla.
“When you go to a dealership, there’s all this sort of doubt about the process. The haggling, all the nastiness around it. Did I pay the same amount as the next customer? Did I get tricked? We like the idea of owning the entire process. It creates an information loop from our customers straight into manufacturing and vehicle design.”
Tesla plans to produce 500,000 cars in 2018 which will inevitably have a great impact on its retail and service model. So far, the company’s model has been greatly influenced by Apple’s, which is not surprising considering both models have been established by the same person: George Blankenship.
Blankenship left Tesla in 2013 and a few different executives have led Tesla’s retail effort since. Srivats, who was a senior VP at British fashion house Burberry before joining Tesla, has put several people from the fashion industry in leading roles at Tesla stores.
Srivats’ pilot project to have ‘Tesla galleries’ inside Nordstrom stores could also be a hint at the company’s new retail model. We will have to wait and see…
Featured Image: Tesla’s retail and service location in Shenzhen, China.