Tesla Launches European Sales

Last Wednesday the Financial Times ran a piece indicating that Tesla was now formally setting its sights on Europe. This is the first of what will be an increasing effort on our part to build the Tesla brand on the European continent with the anticipation of delivering cars to customers starting in the middle of 2009.

The idea that Tesla would expand internationally is nothing new – that has been our intention all along. There are many reasons why Europe is a very attractive market, outlined below. The thing that is new here is the timing of our expansion plans.

While issues of global warming and sustainability have become part of the mainstream progressive thinking in the United States in the past couple of years, Europeans have been passionate about them for a while now.

This is evidenced in part by high gas prices (due to gas taxes) and vehicle registration fees that have been established in many European countries to drive consumers to greener transportation alternatives such as public transport and alternative fuel vehicle technologies.

An enviable consequence of this is a very robust rail system and a thriving market for small displacement, high efficiency vehicles. About half of the passenger cars in Europe are diesels, with the latest models sporting similar MPG ratings to the best hybrid alternatives such as the Prius. The goals that have been set for CO2 emissions for auto manufacturers in Europe are more aggressive than even the recently strengthened CAFE standards in the US.

Related to these efforts to drive consumers to green alternatives are significant tax preferences for EVs in certain countries, such as Norway, where a similar vehicle to the Tesla Roadster powered by an internal combustion engine would carry a 100% registration tax, whereas the Tesla owner will pay no registration tax.

Last, but certainly not least, is the exchange rate between the Dollar and the Euro (or Pound Sterling). Over the last two years, the value of the dollar has fallen significantly against that of the Euro and Pound (see this chart). This simultaneously puts pressure on US pricing and makes Euro sales more attractive. Remember that a sizable portion of our car parts and labor are paid in Euros or Pounds.

Back to the timing of this effort - under prior rules and regulations, homologating a new car for sale across Europe would have been complex and resource intensive. Recently, the situation changed for the better - new rules will be introduced in April 2009 that simplify the homologation of Electric Vehicles across the EU, including special provisions for low volume manufacturers. This simplifies the effort for Tesla Motors to introduce the Tesla Roadster into Europe as a special limited edition in 2009, ahead of our original schedule.

This special limited edition will sell for 99,000 Euros for a fully loaded car, to be delivered in 2009 shortly after the rule change takes effect. Similar to our early customers in the US, Europeans who reserve the car early will receive a special edition version of the world’s best high-performance electric vehicle. For details on reserving this special edition Roadster contact Tesla at eurosales@teslamotors.com or call +1 650-413-6200.

Part of the plan for Europe is to establish company-owned sales and service facilities. We haven’t yet made any final decisions on exactly where Tesla will be located but will communicate these plans as they develop. Integrating all aspects of the customer experience with Tesla is an important part of our strategy in both the US and globally.

Our first planned event in Europe will be at the Top Marques Monaco from April 24-27. I will be there personally, along with several other Teslans from the San Carlos and Hethel, UK office. I encourage Tesla fans and potential customers in Europe to join us there to take a close look at the cars, introduce yourselves, and pick up an information packet on the 2009 European reservation process.

In addition to Monaco, we are currently planning to exhibit with a key vendor at the Paris Auto Show in October. We will of course be participating in additional venues in Europe, and will be expanding our marketing plans over the next months. If you are a member of the European press or want to discuss marketing opportunities in Europe please drop me an email at siry@teslamotors.com. If you are European Tesla fan, help us spread the word by asking your local news and magazine to check out Tesla.

Since we launched the Tesla Roadster in the US, there has been extraordinary interest from European customers and media. Now that we are in production, we are excited to offer this groundbreaking car to Europeans who want to be the first on the continent to drive a car with extraordinary performance, beautiful styling, and zero emissions.

Meanwhile, production continues apace and we are preparing for the opening of the Los Angeles and Menlo Park stores and the delivery of cars to customers. Things here are, to say the least, very busy.

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