Yes, we’ve heard the news, Tesla is closing down all of their innovative car dealerships, and going entirely online for sales, sidestepping the traditional “test drive”. There is quite the major shakeup happing at Tesla cutting back costs and reducing the price of the Model 3, but those Tesla dealerships, so emblematic from Paris to Beijing, Honolulu to Mexico City, will be a thing of the past. While currently, Tesla may not be able to maintain such a global infrastructure of brick and mortar stores, I thought it would be beneficial to go back and see how their innovative design and philosophy spawned such a global “Electric Empire”.
Initially, Tesla’s dealerships were designed to not only inform but also to persuade; they need to convince potential customers that they could leave the world of gas guzzlers behind. In August of 2015, Tesla launched a revamp of its stores worldwide for the debut of its Model X. Stores now included interactive displays focused on four themes: safety, autopilot, charging network, and the electric motor itself. To give customers, the best possible purchasing experience, Tesla has decided to focus on crucial but straightforward needs. These needs revolve around the questions regarding “How far can I go?”, “How is this car different?”, “How can I customize it?” etc.
To effectively tell Tesla’s story, Tesla has initiated “Interactive Stations” as a way to interact and communicate Tesla’s story and message. This is all in service to Tesla innovative brand and market which they have created for themselves. They wanted to share that story around the world, crossing boundaries of culture, context, and language.
The Go Electric Station was set up to answer many of these questions and concerns about owning an electric vehicle. The Go Station works by allowing potential customers to input factors such as location, fuel prices, speed, temperature, and environment. From the collection of these factors, a detailed picture is derived which illustrates factors such as the cost of ownership, performance, the potential distance which can be traveled, and emissions output.
The main obstacle for potential Tesla buyers to become actual Tesla buyers is the purchasing process itself. Ease and efficiently were paramount when it came to Tesla’s in-dealer purchasing tools. Tesla’s product specialists, as they were called, could bring up the car configuration which the customer had previously compiled. From those design specifications, the product specialist can then advise on specific payment options and transaction finalization.
To complement their luxury car dealerships, Tesla also hired former Burberry executive, Ganesh Srivats, to spearhead their own branded luxury goods initiative. By introducing expensive clothing and accessories, Tesla boosted revenue and deepened its relationship with potential customers. With fashion-conscious concepts coupled with Tesla’s innovative dealerships and “Interactive Stations”, Tesla made the bet that it could sustain this luxury experience, but that was not to be. In the current wave of cost-cutting measure coupled with regulations limiting direct sales, Tesla scrapped its innovative Car Dealership project, now they are making another bet, that their online sales service will break even more global barriers.