SAN FRANCISCO -- Tesla Motors Inc. marked the opening of its largest North American sales, service and delivery center in San Francisco, a key market from which the electric-car maker will introduce its all-important Model 3 sedan late next year.
Though Tesla is based in nearby Palo Alto, the 65,000-square-foot San Francisco center is the company’s first in the city, where one-fifth of residents don’t own a car and ride-sharing services led by Uber Technologies Inc. are emerging as a dominant form of transportation. The location was originally home to a Chevrolet showroom built in 1937, the year the Golden Gate Bridge opened.
“Model 3 reservations skew young and urban,” Jon McNeill, Tesla’s president of global sales and service, said in an interview Tuesday before an evening event for nearly 400 attendees, including customers. “What makes this our flagship store is that the Bay Area is really our home.”
Tesla is expanding retail operations as it targets production of 500,000 vehicles by 2018, roughly a 10-fold increase from last year. The automaker operates about 260 stores worldwide -- the largest is in Oslo, Norway -- and plans to have 300 open by the end of this year. Tesla aims to have about 440 open by the end of 2017, when the Model 3, starting at a more affordable $35,000 before incentives, is slated to begin deliveries.