DETROIT -- Tesla Motors Inc. plans to open a dealership in Beijing -- its first store in China -- this spring to establish a niche for its Tesla Model S electric sedan.
George Blankenship, the company's vice president of worldwide sales, said the store will house an 8,000-square-foot facility, much larger than its U.S. stores, which typically have 2,500 to 3,000 square feet of floor space.
"The China market is incredibly important to us," Blankenship said. "We think our timing is perfect."
Tesla's announcement comes at a time when Beijing is enduring an unprecedented amount of smog, which has reduced visibility to a few yards. However, China's environmental movement has made little headway, and sales of electric cars have been minimal.
Analysts and auto executives have noted that Chinese consumers could be put off by the high price of EVs and the lack of charging stations. Urban residents, who often lack garages, would find it especially difficult to recharge their batteries.
But Blankenship says the Model S is designed to handle such situations. The vehicle has its own battery-charging hardware, he notes, so all the motorist needs is an electrical outlet.
"Anywhere there's a garage and anywhere there's a plug, there is infrastructure," Blankenship said.
Tesla already has dealerships in Japan and Australia and in Europe, and it is preparing to add a new vehicle -- the Model X -- to its lineup.
Blankenship declined to estimate the China store's cost or the company's sales objectives.