Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent his second email to employees in a month to clear up confusion around its store closures, according to a copy of the memo viewed by CNBC.
The email says Tesla stores with high foot traffic and sales will remain open. It also says Tesla will open more stores if it thinks it can increase sales. Musk's memo also said customers will still have to buy cars from their phone or a computer, even if they do so in a store.
Tesla originally caused a stir with its February announcement that it would shift to online only sales. At the time, Musk confirmed this move would involve reducing the headcount in Tesla's sales and retail force. On March 10, Musk addressed employees directly in an internal email to all employees, saying its plans had changed and Tesla would "retain more stores than previously announced." The company also published a blog post to explain its shifted mindset to the public, saying that upon review, it had decided to close fewer stores.
As a tradeoff, the company said, "Tesla will need to raise vehicle prices by about 3% on average worldwide. In other words, we will only close about half as many stores, but the cost savings are therefore only about half."
In the latest email to employees sent Wednesday, Musk said he hoped to clarify some confusion around the new plans around retail locations.
"Stores with a high visitation rate and that lead to significant sales will absolutely not be closed down," Musk said in the email. "It would not make any sense to do so, except in rare cases where the rent is absurdly high. Moreover, Tesla will continue to open stores throughout the world that meet the above criteria."
He also cleared up some misconceptions around Tesla's decision to sell online only.
"What is meant by 'all sales will be online' is just that the act of purchasing a Tesla will always be done via the potential new owner's phone or computer," Musk wrote.
Tesla was not immediately available to comment.
Read the full memo below:
From: Elon Musk
March 27, 2019
Subject: Tesla Stores & Sales
There [is] still some uncertainty around Tesla stores and the sales team. Hopefully, this note clears things up. Please let me know if there is anything I've forgotten to address.
- Stores with a high visitation rate and that lead to significant sales will absolutely not be closed down. It would not make any sense to do so, except in rare cases where the rent is absurdly high. Moreover, Tesla will continue to open stores throughout the world that meet the above criteria.
- Stores that are in a location with low visitation rates (ie empty most of their opening hours) and lead to low sales will gradually be closed down. This is analogous to seeds on barren ground. There is no reasonable way to justify keeping such stores open.
- Stores that are somewhere in the middle will be evaluated over time to see [if] there is some way to allow them to cover their costs. If there is, they will remain open, otherwise not. However, these stores will be given a fair opportunity to prove their case.
The above principles also apply to the sales team. No one who is a major contributor to demand generation will be let go. That would make no sense. However, sometimes, in a company with 45,000 people, things happen that make no sense. I will do my best to remedy issues when brought to my attention directly or through email@example.com.
What is meant by "all sales will be online" is just that the act of purchasing a Tesla will always be done via the potential new owner's phone or computer. This is true whether they are at home or in a store. Unlike buying from other carmakers, ordering a Tesla doesn't require any *physical paperwork*.
This is very different from normal expectations for buying from other carmakers and is simply meant to emphasize that ordering a Tesla is super easy and can be done in 2 minutes from your phone or laptop at Tesla.com. Ordering a Tesla is not much harder than ordering an Uber, but hardly anyone knows this!
However, many potential Tesla owners will still want to talk to a Tesla representative in person or want a test drive from a Tesla representative. Stores also have a small number of Tesla vehicles available to drive away immediately for customers that want a car right then and there.
This is why stores and Tesla product specialists and owner advisors will always be of critical importance to our long-term success.