Tesla Motors Inc. has brought the first batch of right hand drive Model S sedans to the United Kingdom and could be building a production plant in Europe in the near future.
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the company could build a factory in the region when its electric car sales total 160,000 units annually. Other plans include opening a European research and development center in the U.K. in 2015 or 2016 and expanding its Tilburg facility. The latter, located in the Netherlands, serves as Tesla’s final assembly plant. Tesla cars originate from the United States and are imported to Europe for the re-installation of batteries.
In the London event that celebrates the arrival of the first Model S units in the U.K., Musk told Automotive News Europe that his goal is to sell “a comparable number” of the sedans in the region as in the U.S. Based on the data of Harrow, London-based automotive research firm JATO Dynamics, Tesla sold 3,467 Model S sedans in Europe in the first four months of the year while it sold 2,050 units in the U.S. in the same period. The Model S is currently the only vehicle the Palo Alto, California-based automaker is selling.
Musk was in London to offer the car keys to the first five Model S owners in the U.K. Among those who received the sedan’s key from the Tesla CEO is author E.L. James. At the event, Musk mentioned that he expects the U.K. to eventually be Tesla’s biggest market in the region. Norway currently holds this title.
Tesla has a single dealership in the U.K. and it is located at the Westerfield shopping mall in London. The Model S sold here has a starting price of £49,900 ($83,249).
Tesla intends to increase the sales of its five-door electric car by over 56 percent by selling it to international markets such as China. Once global deliveries top the 500,000 mark, Musk said that the company would eventually have a production plant in Europe as well as China. Tesla currently manufactures the Model S at a facility located in Fremont, California, which used to be New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI).
Tesla is currently developing its next vehicle, the Model X crossover SUV. It will arrive in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2015 and is expected in Europe at the end of the same year. The carmaker’s next project, a small entry-level electric car, is slated to roll into showrooms in three years’ time.