Last week, Tesla announced it would close all its stores. This week, it said it would keep most of them open.
Lots of people have speculated about the causes and effects of both moves, from rent owed, to state statutes, to the logistics of test drives.
Our question is, what do potential electric-car buyers think?
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That's what we decided to ask our Twitter followers this week: "Do Tesla stores still matter?"
If Tesla is to sell the Model Y, much less move on to selling the upcoming pickup it has planned, as well as the new Roadster and Semi, it needs to keep selling more of its existing models—the Model 3, Model S, and Model X.
With CEO Elon Musk at the helm, Tesla has been known as a company that can sell all the cars it builds with no advertising and virtually no marketing.
Most car companies rely on their dealers to do much of their advertising and marketing. Musk relies on free media from such things as shooting an original Tesla Roadster into space on a Falcon X rocket.
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Yet one of the biggest challenges in selling electric cars, at least for other automakers, has been educating drivers who have spent decades driving internal combustion cars about how an electric can work for them. That has been a key function of Tesla stores.
Another big factor in selling electric cars, identified by advocates, is, as they say, getting "butts in seats." Once a newcomer has the chance to experience an EV's instant power, silent acceleration, and relatively flat handling, many are hooked and never want to go back to gas cars. All of that can be hard to do online.
Many states have banned Tesla stores because of franchise laws designed to protect car dealer,s who have been in business for decades or centuries, that prohibit direct sales from an automaker. In many of those states, Tesla has never opened stores (or opened more limited "galleries,") demonstrating its success at selling cars online.
Do Tesla stores still matter?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) March 12, 2019
The most likely responses to our question about whether Tesla stores still matter, then, would seem to be: Yes, so more people discover the advantages of EVs; No, everyone already knows about Tesla; Yes, because long test drives are critical to winning EV converts; and No, not in my state. We've abbreviated and had some fun with these options to keep within the limits of Twitter polls.
Click on over to the poll and let us know which best describes your feelings. And remember that our Twitter polls are unscientific (and best not relied on for business decisions), because of their low sample size and because our respondents are self-selected.