Tesla’s plan to close retail locations is going in the opposite direction

Tesla is opening more retail locations throughout the world, indicating that its 2019 plan to shutter showrooms has been left in the dust.

A report from Electrek indicated that Tesla was ramping the hiring of customer service and sales representatives within some of its existing retail locations, along with a plan to open more showrooms in the future. Interestingly enough, the move to increase its sales team within retail locations and build more showroom facilities goes against what the company planned to do in early 2019.

During a press call in February 2019, company CEO Elon Musk stated that the electric automaker was planning to do away with retail locations, attempting to reduce the cost of its vehicles for consumers and make the company’s fleet of sustainable cars affordable for a broader market.

Tesla Model 3 at the Palo Alto, CA store [Credit: Alex Guberman at E for Electric]

“We’re moving all sales online…Worldwide, the only way to buy a Tesla will be online,” Musk said during the call last year.

Musk did say that some showrooms would remain open because they allowed some curious consumers to experience the company’s products. “We will be closing some stores, and there will be a reduction in headcount…Unfortunately, there’s no way around it,” he added.

But evidence from recent job postings on Tesla’s career website indicates that the company is ramping the presence of its showrooms and retail locations. These changes will affect several U.S. locations, along with showrooms in Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Tesla was able to maintain a relatively stable sales presence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic because of its online sales structure. Musk stated late last week on the Automotive News podcast that the ability to order a car on Tesla’s website in a matter of a few moments or less was a substantial factor in the company’s ability to perform well during the mandatory quarantine.

Retail locations are advantageous for some buyers because it eliminates the uncertainty of ordering a vehicle online. All too often, people order something they have never seen in person off of the internet, all to return it to the manufacturer within a few days. Luckily, Tesla’s lenient return policy gives the owner seven days or 1,000 miles to return their all-electric car. However, test drives from a showroom can solidify a sale even before a consumer places a downpayment on their new vehicle.

There are also a significant number of people who do not have internet access, a riddle that Musk is trying to solve with the Starlink project with SpaceX. Some potential owners may be interested in switching to sustainable transportation, but cannot order the company’s cars on a computer because they do not have access to one.

The retail locations are an advantage in growing Tesla’s presence, which has been a goal of the company since its establishment. However, as demand continues to increase, Tesla is looking to make its presence felt in a series of new areas that could fuel the company’s thirst to open more production facilities in the future.

Tesla’s plan to close retail locations is going in the opposite direction
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