Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) is trying a unique method to entice people to buy its electric car - the Model S which retails at $50,000 for a base model.
Since Tesla knows most people haven't heard of the company, much less its cars, the chances of a visit to a Tesla dealership are pretty tiny. So, it's bringing the sporty, full-size hatchback to the people - to the stores where they typically shop.
The Model S can now be found in 12 stores across North America, from the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, where it's next to an Adidas store, to Tesla Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In other words, where high income people shop for clothes, there just might be a Tesla showroom next door.
"We are deliberately trying to engage with people when they are not thinking about buying a car," George Blankenship, Tesla's sales chief told The Detroit News. He previously worked in the store divisions of Apple and Gap. "That's the best way to educate people about how electric cars work, how much they cost to operate and what Tesla has to offer, when they go car shopping."
The Model S is sold out for 2012 - all 5000 cars have buyers. Now it's selling next year's cars, an estimated 20,000. It only makes cars for buyers, who can reserve a car for $5000 down.
The high performance Model S goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds and gets 300 miles on a charge (at 55 mph), more than many gas-powered vehicles do.
Late next year, Tesla plans to build its next car - an electric SUV called Model X. It will be built on the same platform and share much of the technology as Model S.
Rather than contracting to sell its cars through established dealers, Tesla wants to keep control of the sales and education process for its unique cars.