Not going elaborate on what you probably already know: a Company called Tesla Motors is introducing a new, electric, hot-rod sports car thats as quick as a Lamborghini but still gets about 220 miles before needing a recharge. You've also probably heard that this little number based on the Lotus Elise is going to run about $100,000 a vehicle!
In light of the price of the car, you might think Usedcarsalesman is going jump on Tesla's pricing in this post, right?
Actually, he thinks the seemingly high Tesla price is probably right on. Especially since, over the last 15 years, manufacturers have actually under-priced their electric car and hybrid models to help them find some "traction" in the U.S. market-place.
GM's all-electric EV-1? GM took a bath on it, despite its loyal following. Honda's Insight? It cost $45,000 a unit to make, but Honda had to sell for $20,000 to encourage people to put their arms around the technology. And Toyota even sold the first, and now second generation Prius at a loss, too (admittedly the Prius model probably has more than earned its keep in terms of generating Toyota valuable publicity for its brand and its other models).
So, the Tesla's high price is not Usedcarsalesman's problem. You have to charge something like $100,000 per car if you are expecting to stay close to in the black with these things.
However, where Usedcarsalesman does have a problem is the talk he hears -- not necessarily from Tesla Motors itself -- that Tesla should operate its own major dealership network. Think big showrooms in population centers everywhere, each with big parking lots full of Tesla cars, charged up and awaiting test drives.
Here, Usedcarsalesman strongly disagrees with this idea, at least at this early stage of the game. Its really a sales volume issue (and it could be a "service" issue -- the car's possible, relative lack of need for service -- also)
Let's speculate on Tesla's sales numbers in the next few years. Initially, Tesla will sell maybe 5,000 of its $100,000 electric cars in California, maybe a 1-2,000 in and around every major metropolis -- NYC, D.C., Chicago, maybe a few hundred in each of the Sunbelt states and units here and there in the rest of the U.S. You are also going to see many -- maybe hundreds -- of sales abroad in high-income, urban areas.
However, that's kind of it as far as Tesla sales until the each vehicle individually wears out or the next version comes down the pike from the manufacturer. And considering the relative simplicity of electric car power trains -- $100,000 Tesla notwithstanding -- service of these electric cars is probably not going to be a real money-maker for any kind of dealership network and its franchisees either.
Sure you a franchise could also resell pre-owned Teslas as they come off lease. But let's be serious: there is not really enough sales volume for much of a Tesla used car business either (Usedcarsalesman is obviously made sad by this)
Based on his aforementioned considerations, Usedcarsalesman thinks that Tesla Motors shouldn't go all WebVan and round up money to open, say 200 brand new dealerships/service centers all over the country.
Sure it should go ahead and set up a couple of dealerships in California (San Jose and Los Angeles come to mind) and a couple others in the Sunbelt states, NYC and a couple of foreign, urban locations. But that's about it until Tesla Motors introduces several lower-priced, well-researched and designed models. And that could take 10-20 years.
Note to Tesla Motors: Don't rush things and blow up!!