Not Your Average Car Dealership, Eh?Tesla has opened its first store in Canada (they already have service centers in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, though). It's located in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and to the first time visitor it will probably seem closer to an Apple store than to your average Ford dealership.
Apart from the Model S which you can see and touch and sit in, which is to be expected, there are touchscreens where you can custom build a Tesla exactly the way you want it, and then you can look at your creation on a 85-inch video wall in the back of the store to get a better idea of what it would look like full-scale.
Tesla's Retail Strategy: Why It's DifferentFor those who are curious about Tesla's approach to selling its cars (why not the traditional, time-tested dealership approach?), there's a great essay by Tesla CEO Elon Musk that explains why they did things this way. You can read the whole thing here, but here's a choice excerpt:
Existing franchise dealers have a fundamental conflict of interest between selling gasoline cars, which constitute the vast majority of their business, and selling the new technology of electric cars. It is impossible for them to explain the advantages of going electric without simultaneously undermining their traditional business. This would leave the electric car without a fair opportunity to make its case to an unfamiliar public. [...]
This is very important. You wouldn't ask Microsoft to sell Macs on their website...
By the time most people decide to head to their local dealer, they have already pretty much decided what car they want to buy, which is usually the same make as their old car. At that point it is largely just a matter of negotiating with the dealer on price. Tesla, as a new carmaker, would therefore rarely have the opportunity to educate potential customers about Model S if we were positioned in typical auto dealer locations.
That is why we are deliberately positioning our store and gallery locations in high foot traffic, high visibility retail venues, like malls and shopping streets that people regularly visit in a relatively open-minded buying mood. This allows us to interact with potential customers and have them learn about our cars from Tesla Product Specialists before they have decided which new car to buy. The Product Specialists are also trained to answer questions about electric vehicles in general, not just ours. They are not on commission and they will never pressure you to buy a car.
Tesla Yorkdale is one of 10 new locations Tesla has opened this fall. By the end of 2012, Tesla will have 24 locations in North America and 34 worldwide.