Tesla is not allowed to sell its cars in some states of the USA. That is, it can’t open “dealerships.” Sometimes, even service centers are prohibited. That is unfortunate for Tesla and its (prospective) customers. But as many people are aware, all laws have loopholes.
According to Merriam-Webster:
1 — in commerce; “to deal” is to sell or to trade.
2 — a “dealership” is an authorized sales agency.
That makes the loophole clear. If you don’t sell cars, those dealership prohibitions don’t apply. In a number of states, however, even showing and explaining the cars, with ordering out of state or over the internet, is considered a dealer’s work, putting Tesla’s stores under the prohibition.
What is needed to slide through the loophole is another activity or business, one that is normal and legal. But that business would require the showing and explaining of Tesla’s cars. That activity is car rental. A car rental company is not a dealership, and many are owned by carmakers, at least where I live.
Another great way to show what Tesla is and can do is in the form of galleries. Exhibitions of the work and art of Franz von Holzhausen, even from before he started at Tesla. Exhibitions and video clips of the engineering and problem solving of Elon Musk and JB Straubel. Include many video clips of the competition or amateur ads on YouTube.
Now, we want to also make it visitor friendly, enticing to walk into, nice for viewing the exhibitions, and good for spending some time soaking up the atmosphere. That asks for some hospitality functions, like an internet café, a Starbucks-like coffee corner, a bakery, and a regulars table for Tesla drivers. Tesla cars sawed in half can be used at booths, showing at the same time the different interiors of the cars.
Besides these infotainment functions, there is room for commercial functions. I envision all Tesla commercial activities with the exception of selling cars to find a place here. Probably just adjacent to the café and gallery space, visible but separate. Part souvenir store and info desk, part consultancy and service desk. Probably at the backside of the building there should be a garage for the rental cars, a depot for the Tesla mobility service, and other such functions.
I wish I was an artist. In my mind, I can walk around, sit, and order coffee. I can admire the expositions about Franz, Elon, and JB. I can go to the desk of a consultant for advice on my roof, buy presents for my nephews, and rent a car to experience the unique Tesla smile when using launch mode. I see a large, grand café-like place or indoor market where there are many Tesla-related activities.
The Manager Overview
When turning what is in my head into a business plan’s “manager overview,” it would look like the following.
Nowadays diversified Tesla is a lot bigger than it was. It is possible to open as infotainment, watering hole, and point-of-sale places in closed-minded states — better than dealerships without being a dealership. In a high-end place with a lot of foot traffic, a large space with shop windows is great. Inside, we have the following functions:
- TESLA art gallery, celebrating aesthetic design by Franz von Holzhausen
- TESLA techno gallery, celebrating engineering ingenuity by Elon Musk and JB Straubel
- TESLA car rental
- TESLA coffee shop
- TESLA internet café
- TESLA solar advice, rental, and sales
- TESLA energy storage advice and sales
- TESLA energy installation
- TESLA merchandise
- TESLA accessories
- TESLA CPO car sales
- TESLA financial services; insurance, leasing, loans.
- TESLA mobile service center and depot
TESLA service center TESLA dealership
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Those are a lot of legal, commercial, and marketing activities under one roof. Explaining every technical aspect about a Tesla car is part of the job of the car rental employee. Having a very competitive rental tariff starting with 1 hour rentals can attract many prospects who would like a test drive, a drive a bit longer than the custom 20 minute demo with a salesperson. Having a Model X with a trailer is an excellent excuse for IKEA and Home Depot shoppers to bring their goods home and wow their neighbors.
The regular table where Tesla drivers get their complimentary coffee is the place for free advice for prospects. Buyers can conclude their business in the internet café.
For seating, there are the open halves of the Models S, 3, X arranged as booths along the walls.
If done well, this could even be a cool place to hang out in a city center or large mall.
The perfect place, with a large outdoor terrace, would of course be in Windsor, Canada, on Riverside Drive along the Detroit river, directly opposite the GM towers in Detroit, Michigan. Tesla would not even have to omit the dealership and service center.