News Column

Tesla opens first Inland dealership

May 10, 2014

By Jack Katzanek, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.



May 10--Tesla Motors, the electric car company attempting to change the face of American vehicular transportation with its Model S sedan, opened its first Inland Southern California dealership Friday, May 10.

The Palo-Alto-based car manufacturer held a grand opening for its sales and service center at 68080 Perez Road in Cathedral City. The first-day events included opening ceremonies as well as interactive displays and the opportunity to test drive the Model S.

According to a statement, the dealership will include a design studio where customers can assemble their own vehicles to their liking, along with a full-service repair facility.

It is a chance for Inland motorists to learn about what is being hailed as the first sedan designed from the ground up as an electric car. According to the company's literature, it "has been engineered to elevate the public's expectations of what a premium sedan can be."

The Model S has gotten high marks from Consumer Reports, but the publicly traded company is still in something of a developmental phase. Earlier this week Tesla reported a loss of $49.8 million in the first quarter of 2014. The losses were attributed to improvements to the Model S that the company is working on and development of its next model, the Model X, a crossover vehicle.

According to financial reports, Tesla's research and development costs in the quarter increased 49 percent to $81.5 million. Much of that is for the Model X, which is expected to be put on the market next year and features rear doors that slide upward.

Tesla is investing in adjusting its sedans so they can be sold in European and Asian markets. The company is also working to modify the lithium-ion batteries, which caught fire due to road debris in two instances last year. No one was injured.

The company reported it manufactured 7,535 Model S sedans in the quarter, a record, and delivered 6,437 of them to customers.

Much interest is being paid to Tesla's plans to build a new factory to manufacture the batteries, which the company believes will sharply reduce its costs. As many as five states, including California, are in the running for the plant's site.

But analysts are looking at the bigger picture, covering Tesla's possible long-term impact.

"Tesla's potential to play a major role in the future of personal transportation remains its most compelling story," Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelly Blue Book, said Wednesday in an email. "As long as that role remains in play the company will continue to generate substantial interest and potential market value."

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Contact Jack Katzanek at 951 368-9553 or at jkatzanek@pe.com

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(c)2014 The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)

Visit The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) at www.PE.com

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Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)


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