Going 'shopping' for a Tesla: in California
Santa Monica - Future Shop - Tesla
My Tesla electric car would be ready in about a month, the nice young woman in the two-car 'showroom' told me as I went mystery 'shopping' in Santa Monica, California last week.
With just two models on display - the X and the S - this wasn't your typical sales outlet.
But it could very well become one we will increasingly see here as the whole environment in which cars are bought, used and passed on is changing inexorably.
There was no glamour here. No glitz. It was tiny really. Just two cars, two Tesla people, myself, a colleague (who asked the intelligent questions) and a wealthy looking couple who arrived just as we were leaving to browse the Apple Store a few yards on.
There is a linearity between the two ways of product purchase. You browse before you visit; you get technical guidance and help but the selling has effectively already been done - by you and to you. Basically all our young lady was doing was filling in the gaps for customers.
For example, she was at pains to point out, that she was there to facilitate discussions with the people out back about financing their purchase.
That's where the real action takes place.
By the way, prices start from around $70,000 for the Model S saloon and range to $134,500.
Built alongside the Model S in Fremont, California, is the Model X crossover with its uplifting second-row doors and it ranges from $86,700 to $136,700.
So what happens if I have a trade-in? Tesla doesn't take it in physically but the Tesla lady outlined how they would check for the best price around town for you.
Something quite similar will apply when you come to trade-in your Tesla. There will be outlets for you to sell to - but you will not be haggling over the Cost of Change on the new-car premises.
The whole way they set up to do business is more than interesting. It heralds, surely, one way by which cars will be sold as the years go by. Customers already know so much before they set foot in the 'showroom' that the whole sales aspect takes on a different dimension. That is already the case here and it will accelerate.
As you know, Tesla will set up here this year and will have a number of charging outlets around the country.
Their first-destination charging location is at Powerscourt Hotel in Enniskerry. Another 10 are under way.
Destination is one of three ways to charge Teslas - home (for everyday travel and super (for long journeys) are the others.
The electric-car maker says that with the three options you don't waste time and can go as far as 613km on a single charge.
The company says it is "continuing to build momentum" for the Irish store opening and first deliveries this year.
Globally, a less expensive Model 3 saloon, starting at $35,000, is scheduled but it is some time away from our shores with earliest deliveries to other markets likely to be mid-2018 or later.
By then I expect we'll all be a bit more tuned into the Santa Monica experience.