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Tesla expects Europe, Asia sales to nearly double N.A. by end of the year

Tesla says it will introduce right-hand-drive versions of the Model S in the U.K. and offer leasing and financing programs in Europe.

LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc., which plans to build the world's largest battery factory, said it will open more than 30 new service centers and stores in Europe as it anticipates a jump in sales in that region and Asia.

Tesla expects combined sales in Europe and Asia of almost twice those in North America by the end of the year, according to a statement today from the Geneva auto show. The electric-car maker said it will introduce right-hand-drive versions of its Model S sedan in the U.K. and offer leasing and financing programs in Europe.

The statement didn't offer further statistics about the prediction.

"Growing international sales is a crucial part of the plan for the Tesla, but it won't be easy," said Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis for consultant AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, Calif. "Both in China and Europe, many potential customers may not have access to charging infrastructure that's as good as here in North America."

The automaker, led by Elon Musk, has forecast a more than 55 percent jump in global sales this year and announced plans to spend as much as $5 billion to build a what it calls a "gigafactory" in the United States. The facility would let Tesla create cheaper versions of its cars, potentially doubling its worldwide market share to about 1 percent, said Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley analyst.

Last year, Tesla delivered almost 22,500 battery-powered vehicles. The Model S starts at $71,000 in the United States.

Tesla's cars are available in European nations such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, according to the carmaker's Web site. Musk, the company's co-founder and biggest shareholder, had previously discussed plans to enter China. He said in a January interview that he would travel there in late March to promote the brand.

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