Electric-vehicle startup Tesla Motors Inc. says it is being inundated with retail floor traffic -- despite having only one luxury-priced model to sell.
And soon there will not be even one model for shoppers to view. Tesla will end production of its $109,000 electric two-seat Roadster at year end. Its next model, the plug-in hybrid Model S family sedan, is another year away from market launch.
That apparently doesn't matter to consumers in the few markets where Tesla is retailing through factory-owned stores.
The company told shareholders last week that its store in the Santana Row neighborhood of San Jose, Calif., is receiving 5,000 to 6,000 walk-in customers a week. Its store in Denver's Park Meadows neighborhood is bringing in foot traffic of 10,000 to 12,000 people a week, Tesla reported in a shareholder letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
"The foot traffic at these stores, for example, continues to amaze us," the SEC document reads.
The company cites a number of reasons for the tsunami of tire kickers, including a shopping mall-style store concept and high-traffic retail locations. The company also has set up an EV education format at its 18 stores. Consumers can come in and examine technology displays to learn how EVs work and what the typical ownership experience would be like.
"One of our goals with the new store concept is to educate future electric vehicle buyers," the shareholder letter says. "The response to this new strategy has surpassed our expectations."
New execs named
Earlier today, Tesla, in a statement, said it has hired four top managers, including a new executive to assist with more dealership development, as it prepares the Model S for launch:
1. John Hillegass was named vice president of design and retail development. Hillegass, formerly vice president of store development with the Coles food group, also has worked in design at Pixar Studios and has overseen the development of retail stores for Apple Computer.
He will report to George Blankenship, vice president of worldwide sales and customer experience, who also worked with the rollout of Apple's international retail chain.
2. Greg Reichow has been named vice president of powertrain operations for Tesla. He was formerly responsible for manufacturing at SunPower, a Northern California solar panel producer.
3. Peter Carlsson was named vice president of supply chain. He comes from purchasing management at the Dutch-owned NXP Semiconductors.
4. Ravi Simhambhatla has been named vice president of information technology and business applications. He was chief information officer for the Virgin America airline.