ELECTRIC CAR maker Tesla has opened its second UK store as part of its continuing expansion.
Unlike traditional vehicle manufacturers, Tesla does not sell its cars through dealerships. Instead, it sells directly to the customer via its own retail centres.
The new store, based in West Drayton near Slough, is the second such centre and differs from the first in that it is not located within a shopping mall. The first UK store was opened in the Westfield White City shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush last year.
Tesla’s retail strategy from the start has been to open stores where customers prefer to shop, rather than in out-of-town retail parks. Its Westfield store sees 10,000 people pass through its doors each week and Tesla is currently recruiting for upcoming sales and service facilities in Crawley, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, and Edinburgh.
However, the West Drayton location is not nearly as glamorous as the Westfield store, primarily because it will serve as a delivery and service centre for customer vehicles, with seven service bays and 15-20 service engineers (compared with 8-10 sales staff). Tesla’s old service centre in Acton has been closed.
Tesla says the new store is handily located between the M4 and M40 motorways, and is ideal for the introduction of a new airport shuttle service for customers who are travelling to Heathrow.
Georg Ell (below), Tesla’s country director for the UK & Ireland, said: “If you own a Model S and you’re flying out of Heathrow, you can drive here and leave your car with us. We will shuttle you to the airport with your luggage, then we will pick you up from the airport and bring you back to your car at the end of your journey. In the meantime we will either give you a courtesy inspection of your car or if a service is due, we will do it while you are away.”
Ell has modelled the service on one that was started by Tesla in the US and which, he says, was positively received.
Tesla launched the Model S pure-electric saloon, offering up to 317 miles of range, in the UK last month and plans to start building the Model X electric SUV next year. A third, wholly designed and built vehicle to rival the BMW 3-series, known as the Model 3, will be introduced following the Model X.
In the UK, prices for the Model S start at £50,280, including the £5,000 government plug-in grant. Model S customers will be able to access free high-speed recharging via Tesla’s promised supercharger network. It claims this will allow drivers to travel the length and breadth of the UK without fear of running out of electricity.
Ell says that an extended network in Europe could allow driving holidays from the UK to ski resorts “by Christmas”.