Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Tesla's High-End Boutiques are Spreading

They are the type of high-end shopping centers and malls that make a statement. Places where luxury retailers not only ring up big ticket sales while spreading their brand recognition among well-to-do customers. Whether it's Oakbrook Center just outside Chicago or Bellevue Square near Seattle or Fashion Island in Newport Beach, California the vibe is similar. These are places where you find Tiffany, Gucci, and now, Tesla .

The electric car company isopening three storesin these high-end shopping areas as the company continues to expand its brand awareness. These are actually more like galleries, rather than stores. That's fine. These Tesla stores are not dealerships in the traditional sense. Sure, they will all have a Model S prototype and hands-on exhibits highlighting what Tesla has to offer. Think of it as the kind of place where a wealthy customer will wander in and get a taste of what Tesla is all about.

Right now, it's all about spreading the word on the Model S.

Source: Tesla

Tesla already has more than 6,000 orders for the all electric sedan that will sell for between $57,400 and $77,400 depending on the range and trim level you buy.

The base level, which goes 160 miles on a charge is the lowest priced, while the 230 mile and 300 mile versions are more expensive.

On the Tesla 3Q earnings call, CEO Elon Musk said, "Most Model S buyers will want the versions that get 230 miles per charge, followed by the 300 range."

The first versions will be delivered starting next July.

Given Tesla has already racked up more than 6,000 orders for the Model S, why is it spending its marketing dollars opening galleries instead of traditional dealerships? It's about brand awareness and reaching potential buyers in an atmosphere where they can check out the Model S while not feeling they are actually shopping. And make no mistake, when Tesla unveils its Model X later this year, prototypes of that model will eventually trickle into Tesla galleries.

What can we expect from the Model X, which will be a cross between a minivan and an upscale SUV? Musk says, "We want more functionality than a minivan in something that looks really cool."


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