A year after Tesla Inc. briefly flirted with closing most bricks-and-mortar retail locations in favor of an online-only sales model, the automaker is finding use for new physical storefronts, even in states where it was previously barred.
Case in point: The company is opening its first service center and standalone gallery in Michigan. A spokesman said the service center began operating in March but didn't know when the gallery would start welcoming customers.
The electric vehicle maker has 135 stores, or galleries, in 29 states, according to its website, which does not yet list the Michigan location, about 40 miles northwest of Detroit. Worldwide, Tesla had 434 stores and service centers at the end of the first quarter of this year, five more than in the previous quarter.
That was the case in Michigan until January, when Tesla reached a settlement with the state that allows it to sell and service its EVs, albeit through a subsidiary. Employees in the Michigan gallery will be able to discuss prices, service, financing, leasing and trade-ins with potential customers, conduct test drives and facilitate "ordering and purchase of a vehicle for which legal title transfers out of state," according to the settlement.