Luxury EV maker Tesla opened one of its boutique stores in Canada to the public today, marking the brand’s first location in the country.
The first official store in Canada, the outlet is located in the newly opened wing of the Yorkdale Shopping Center in Toronto, Ontario.
Following the same philosophy as its other 24 storefronts in North America, Tesla isn’t aiming to sell cars to those who happen to wander in during a shopping excursion. Instead, it aims to educate people on electric cars and what it, as an automaker, offers consumers.
A staff is always on hand take grazers through a series of tutorials designed to show what going electric is all about. Tesla sales vice president George Blankenship was on hand today to talk about the company’s current product and the brand’s goals for its flagship Canadian location.
What’s that goal? Building a brand identity. “95 percent of people don’t know who we are,” he said. That’s exactly what he said Tesla means to combat by opening these locations. “We’ll open another 25 stores this year,” he said. Currently, there are 24 locations in North America, which was the brand’s main focus this year.
“There’s a bit of lighting that happens when you talk to someone in person,” he said while smiling.
But that lightning is raising a few eyebrows in the U.S. where the brand’s primary focus was this year. Complains and lawsuits from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) rose this year around Tesla’s small, independent storefront strategy. Laws exist in some states to prevent automakers from selling directly to consumers — primarily to protect dealer networks from being squeezed out.
But Tesla doesn’t have a dealer network, and therein lies the argument currently flaring between the two groups. Nevertheless, Blankenship said Tesla isn’t worried about the lawsuit, and quickly pointed out that it won’t be a struggle the brand will face with its new Canadian location.