Electric-car manufacturer Tesla Motors Inc. revealed something during the Geneva Motor Show that is as newsworthy as a brand new concept car: its plans for European expansion.
In a press release, the company announced that it will be opening 30 new service centers and stores, as well as expanding its network of battery-charging stations across Europe. The expansion of the Supercharger network will allow drivers of the Model S sedan to travel across the continent free of charge. Increasing the number of Superchargers is a must: until the charging infrastructures are in place, European customers will not be enticed to purchase the electric cars. There are currently only 14 Superchargers in Europe.
This move aims to strengthen the company’s commitment to Europe, which it considers a key market. The Model S is well-received in the continent, not only in terms of sales but also in reviews. It was named Car of the Year in Sweden and Most Stylish Car in Switzerland last year. It was also awarded the Car of the Year Prize of Honor in Denmark.
In 2013, Tesla sold 22,477 vehicles, most of which were for customers in the United States. The luxury automaker has also started selling the Model S in European countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Belgium. Later this year, the company hopes to introduce the car in China. Elon Musk, Tesla co-founder and CEO, said in an interview that he will travel to the Asian country later this month to promote the company.
Tesla expects auto sales from both Europe and Asia to exceed sales in North America. It is predicted that the sales boost will come from the United Kingdom, where the company will launch a right-hand drive version of the Model S soon. Growth is also expected with the offering of competitive leasing and financing options. The price of the Model S in the United States starts at $71,000.
Tesla also made headlines not too long ago with the announcement of its plans to build a ‘gigafactory’ by 2017. Last month, the company said it will be building the biggest battery plant in the world, worth an estimated $5 billion. The automaker will be partnering with Panasonic and other firms for the building of the said structure. The large scale facility will be built for the more efficient and less costly production of lithium ion batteries. This will allow the automaker to make less expensive cars, and in turn, widen their client base.
The ‘gigafactory’ is set to be built in the U.S. Southwest, and it has started a bidding war among four states. Tesla named Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas as finalists because they have the climate and terrain most suitable for a facility which will be powered by wind turbines and solar panels. The battery plant will require 1,000 acres.
Considering that Tesla’s battery factory is expected to bring in 6,500 jobs, the project is deemed as a significant economic development project. The four finalists are expected to compete with each other to secure the project. Texas is the most developed in terms of automotive infrastructure—it is home to the truck factories of Toyota and General Motors. According to Forbes, Texas Governor Rick Perry himself is involved in the negotiations.