Tesla is moving all of its sales online, a dramatic shift in its sales strategy that will result in the closure of stores and some layoffs as the automaker looks for ways to reduce costs in order to bring a cheaper Model 3 to market.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn’t say how many stores would close. He noted that some stores would remain and turn into information centers and showrooms. The company didn’t provide specific numbers on how many retail employees might be affected.
“We will be closing some stores and that will be some reduction in head count as a result; there’s no question about that,” Musk said. “There’s no other way for us to achieve the savings required to provide this car and be financially sustainable. I wish there was another way, but unfortunately, it will entail reduction in workforce on the retail side, no way around it.”
The shift to online-only sales, plus other cost efficiencies, allowed the company to lower all vehicle prices by about 6 percent on average and finally offer a $35,000 Model 3.
Meanwhile, Tesla plans to hire more service technicians, or mechanics, Musk noted during a call with reporters Thursday. Tesla didn’t provide details on how many mechanics it plans to hire.
In order to mitigate the need for a test ride, Tesla is extending the return policies on its vehicles. New customers will be able own a car for a week and drive for 1,000 miles and still return it for a full refund if they don’t like it, Musk said.
“That’s why we’re going to essentially allow somebody to use the car for free for a week, and return it for a full refund,” Musk said. “And we’re going to make it super easy to get a refund, like one-click refund.”
Tesla announced Thursday that it was offering a $35,000 version of the Model 3, which will have 220 miles of range and be able to reach a top speed of 130 miles per hour.
The company also said it’s introducing a Model 3 Standard Range Plus version — which offers 240 miles of range, a top speed of 140 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration of 5.3 seconds, as well as most premium interior features — at $37,000 before incentives.