Dubai: The all-electric carmaker Tesla has opened its first retail location in the Gulf, on Shaikh Zayed Road near the Dubai Mall, and is playing by the same rules it has applied elsewhere.
The facility will be a “store” and definitely not to be identified as a “showroom”, and it is being managed by Tesla and not through a local dealer.
And in classic Tesla style, if someone wants to buy a model, they can make the booking on the dedicated website.
The store also doubles as the brand’s after-sales support facility.
So far, so Tesla. But the carmaker’s formal entry into the UAE — first announced during founder Elon Musk’s visit to Dubai in February — could end up rewriting — even disrupting — the long-established way vehicles are sold here.
The other direct Tesla presence in the region is in Jordan. Even before the formal entry, the UAE roads have seen enough numbers of Tesla models, where the owners had them imported directly or through intermediaries.
Tesla is expected that Tesla’s Model S and Model X, driven by wheels here in Dubai in February, could be the models that would get the company the most traction.
As of now, the Model S — priced from Dh281,350 — and the Model X — from Dh332,500 — are available in-store and for booking.
Depending on whether a battery is available or not, the handover to the owner could vary. In the case the battery is instantly within reach, it would be three to four weeks, and if not — and if the owner decides to go in for heavy customisation — the process could take 8 to 12 weeks.
And for the brand new Model 3, the brand’s entry level vehicle that will be rolling out of the US plant later this month, deliveries to their UAE buyers are expected only by mid-2018.
However, bookings are open, and it requires a down payment of Dh4,000.
The store opening of the world's premium all-electric carmaker in the UAE marks a milestone in the company’s foray into the heart of the world’s fossil fuel trade — but the country is also known for embracing renewables in a big way.
It was the culmination of an exciting journey for the California-based car maker whose stated mission is to usher in a renewable economy.
For a few years now, Tesla’s most ardent lovers who took the trouble of importing their own units into the UAE have formed an owners’ group to support and learn from each other, which indicates the kind of interest the Gulf market has towards electric vehicles.
Dubai had already installed a number of electric car chargers, and regulations governing electric vehicles had been set in the UAE in July 2016.
With the Dubai store in place, Tesla is now going head-to-head with the world’s luxury carmarkers powered by internal combustion engines in a region where petrol prices are still relatively inexpensive.
Long term, it will also show the market response for high-end electric supercars before the mass-market models, like the $35,000-apiece Tesla Model 3, actually hit UAE roads.
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It remains unclear when Model 3 will not be available for sale in the UAE, due to the massive backlog in its home market.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announcement Monday on Twitter that the mass-market car is to start around $35,000 (Dh128,555) and with a $7,500 federal electric car tax credit, could cost $27,500.