The electric carmaker led by billionaire Elon Musk is extending beyond its California comfort zone as it tackles the world’s biggest luxury-car brands in their home market.
Tesla, maker of the successful Model S is already having sales centers in Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Munich, BMW’s hometown and is now going to get to number six after adding locations in the coming months in Berlin and Stuttgart, home to Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG.
“The European home turf belongs to the likes of Daimler, BMW and Audi,” said Bryan Batista, Tesla’s European sales director. “We’re confident that we have a product that stacks up very well.”
The German BMW brand has just unveiled at the 2013 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show its second vehicle in the “i” brand, the i8 hybrid supercar but also featured its first true electric, the city dwelling i3. Tesla is trying to scratch the German goliaths – its six stores can’t really compete at the moment with the hundreds of stores from the dealer networks.
All the while Audi just presented a hybrid A3 that can travel 50 kilometers (31 miles) on electric power and VW’s Porsche brand unveiled the $845,000 918 Spyder hybrid. Mercedes displayed an electric version of the SLS gull-wing sports car and plans to roll out an electric B-Class compact next year – Daimler, which owns a 4% stake in the company will use Tesla’s batteries and motors for the electric compact model.
Tesla says its newcomer status is an advantage as it expands across Europe. The company plans to open 15 stores and service centers in the region by yearend, bringing its total to more than 20.
The Tesla Model S costs in Germany 71,400 euros, versus 39,900 euros for the cheapest 5-Series. BMW’s smaller i3, which seats four and is about the size of the company’s Mini hatchback, will start just under 35,000 euros when it hits showrooms in November.