Last Thursday evening, Tesla opened another retail location in its push to expand electric-car sales outside the U.S.
This one was in London's Westfield Mall, built along the lines of high-end U.S. malls west of the Notting Hill neighborhood.
According to our man on the scene, the lighting was challenging, the acoustics were terrible, and only half the beer and wine was consumed.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013
None of that mattered to the legions of the faithful, the curious, and the potential Model S buyers who turned out to hear Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk talk about the Model S car, the company, and the future of electric cars.
London's Tesla Store is sited next to a Calvin Klein Jeans store--Diesel is just down the aisle--and a Godiva Chocolates kiosk sits right across from its entrance.
But the event placed three Tesla Model S luxury electric sedans in the aisles and central display area outside the store, and crowds thronged them all night.
At 8 pm, CEO Elon Musk officiated with a short speech--which largely covered familiar ground for Tesla followers--followed by no less than 75 minutes of answering questions from the crowd.
A few points stood out among the questions:
Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013
- The U.K. will be the first market for right-hand-drive Model S cars
- The U.K. price for the base Model S will be £55,000 ($89,000) including Value-Added Tax, "or a bit below"
- Tesla expects to deliver 50 Model S cars a week in the U.K. at launch, building to 100 cars a week over time
- The company is now mapping the U.K. to site its Supercharger quick-charging stations at appropriate locations
- For three years, companies that buy green cars for employees as a perk have paid no tax on them, but the future of that incentive is uncertain after a one-year extension
- Tesla has no current plans to expand into Ireland, but the company will "of course" launch there--sooner or later
- The Model S was designed to permit battery-pack swapping and it's now being tested in San Francisco and Los Angeles; if popular, Tesla will launch it in the U.K. too
- Inductive charging won't be offered by Tesla, because it requires two separate charging systems in the car
- The mass-market Tesla will arrive in about three years at a price of £30,000 ($48,500) $30,000
- The Tesla Model X crossover, featuring all-wheel drive and air suspension, will be available for the U.K. in late 2015 or 2016 (roughly a year later than in the U.S.)
- Musk plans to convert the James Bond Lotus Esprit he bought to a real electric submarine, he is saving all parts so it could be restored to its movie-prop appearance
Another question came from a Financial Times reporter, following up on an interview with the British newspaper in which Musk had said Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] had a higher market capitalization than it "deserves."
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Green Car Reports thanks our London correspondent and photographer, who prefers to remain an International Man of Mystery.]