Tonight Tesla Motors launched their first retail shop and service center in Victoria. The second in the 6 months the company launched in late 2014. The store is located at 650 Church St. Cremorne and from tomorrow Tesla owners will be able tor recharge their vehicles for free at 2 of the 4 superchargers at the front of the building. Tesla had planned for all 4 to be operational by tonight’s launch, but due to issues with 3rd party power contractors, weren’t able to hit the launch. All four superchargers are scheduled to be operational in the next few weeks.
A new program launching shortly will see all local Tesla owners issued with a security pass to enter the Tesla premises 24 hours a day. This means an owner now gets free power from the supercharger, but doesn’t have to sit in their vehicle, instead can enter a portion of the Melbourne store and use free power and WiFi and enjoy comfy lounges. With co-working spaces taking off in cities around the globe and coffee shops cracking down on the time available on their WiFi, this now means owners are buying a place to work or relax, as well as free power.
Right now the power for the Superchargers and the building in general comes from the grid, but don’t be surprised to see solar on the roof and battery storage (PowerWall) help do some of the lifting in the future. The power to the building wasn’t sufficient for Tesla and meant they had to have a substation installed at the location to fulfill their needs.
Tonight’s launch welcomed owners to the store and service center, which will now serve as a launch facility for owners from Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and even as far away as Western Australia. Northern owners will be services by the Sydney center.
Having a service center is critical for some potential customers, with the prospect of shipping it interstate if it breaks, unacceptable for some. Now, it can be serviced in Melbourne. Tesla recommends customers get their vehicle serviced every 12 months. While the parts area lay empty tonight, we’re assured that’s about to be filled shortly, meaning replacements or upgrades won’t endure waiting times associated with international shipping.
The premises features a large white floorspace, including areas for all common services, which are obviously less than a typical service center, given the massive reduction in moving and serviceable parts. Large hoists allowed owners to see underneath their vehicles, something many hadn’t experienced. The underbody being an unconventional flat surface to aid in the aerodynamics of the vehicle and protection for the batteries.
The front of the shop includes customer service agents. Tesla puts employees through rigorous education programs to make sure they know the product inside and out. The first batch of Tesla customers were so in love with the product that they hit the buy button after only seeing the vehicle on-screen. These customers were educated, often watching the press conference to unveil Model S and following the news as different models and features are released.
Now Tesla are going after the less-educated customer. The ones that have questions about how an EV works, what colour and accessory options are available. While a lot, if not all of this information is available on the website, the reality is the colours differ a lot between the screen and real life. A dramatic example of that was the experience tonight, where an interactive touch screen allowed users to build their virtual car, but turn around and see the real thing. The colour red was significantly different under the showroom lights. If this is important to you, along with the choice of fabrics and finishes, you can touch and feel it all in the design center.
The new store will also offer the ability for potential customers to test drive a Tesla. Unlike most companies, they aren’t ageist. If you’re 20 and interested, you can test drive. After speaking with Tesla staff tonight, it’s clear they understand and appreciate that we do have people at 20 that could potentially afford the Model S, even now at it’s $100K price tag. There’s a recognition there that getting behind the wheel of a Tesla is ultimately good for the brand. Even if that doesn’t translate to a sale now, there’s a high likelyhood, they’ll consider Tesla in the future. That demonstrates a company that’s confident about their product.
Excited to officially open Tesla’s Melbourne office tonight. New energy technologies a key part of Victoria’s future pic.twitter.com/xhDp3qe3aK
— Lily D’Ambrosio MP (@LilyDAmbrosioMP) May 14, 2015
Tonight the launch also contained a speech by the Minister for Industry and Energy & Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio. D’Ambrosio spoke incredibly positively about the work that Tesla has done, particularly in moving the EV industry forward. While there was no formal announcement tonight, there were certainly hints the government may help Telstra build the electric infrastructure in Victoria. Given Tesla’s plans to rollout recharging options across Victoria and the east-coast, it’s great to see the relationship being established and hopefully all EV owners can benefit if the government helps.
Another announcement by Tesla tonight was a partnership with Secure Parking which would see dedicated EV places be introduced in a number of car parks across Australia. It’s still early days and the detail is still to be worked out, like if the cost of the power is free, but the parking is at a regular or reduced rate. Certainly the position of the recharge spots would be at a convenience level similar to that of disabled parking. This means if you own a Tesla and spot the sign, you’d know there’s a spot there for you. Thanks to the wonderful world of connected cars, it’d be easy to see if the bay was full of Tesla’s and find an alternate right from your in-dash display.
The company is making some very interesting moves and is definitely one to watch in Australia as their story continues to grow up and down the east coast (sorry Perth). Also here’s a fun tip.. if you head to the store to pickup some merchandise, don’t bother bringing cash, they don’t accept it. A company that builds cars from the future, also use future-looking payments.