Tesla Goes to London

Londoners and travelers with some time to kill in the neighborhood of Heathrow Airport — or at least the electric sports car fiends among them — may have a new destination this spring. Tesla Motors, which has the chassis for its Roadster assembled about 100 miles away in Hethel, England, today announced the location of its planned London showroom. One of three the company hopes to open in Europe by year’s end, it’s the former site of the Segrave Supercar Club (run by the Harrods luxury department store), which gave members access to a fleet of exotic performance cars.

According to a report from the UK’s Auto Express, the exclusive club shuttered last fall after its main source of funding and target market — bankers — bit the dust along with the economy. Tesla, too, targets the well-to-do. As in the U.S. — where Tesla has opened sales and service centers (modeled after Apple stores) in Los Angeles and Menlo Park, Calif., and has set its sights on Manhattan, Miami, Seattle and Chicago — the startup has sought out upscale real estate markets for its facilities in Europe. That puts Tesla close to its customer base, but it also means a fair amount of overhead.

The startup plans to use the former Segrave facility to show off its Roadster, bring in deposits and eventually service vehicles after it begins EU deliveries (slated for June). For one of the “special limited edition” Roadsters (250 cars) the company is setting aside for Europe in 2009, customers will pay 99,000 euros ($130,750) — significantly more than the $109,000 U.S. base price, but not a bad deal for ex-Segrave clubbers, who would have paid about that much for four years of high-speed car-sharing.

Photo courtesy Tesla Motors

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