Tesla Motors is, as always, thinking big. The company already has a factory in California with a lot of empty space. But with Model S deliveries happening in Europe and a right-hand drive version just launched in the UK, CEO Elon Musk is already talking about building EVs in Europe. We did some math and let's just say we think any such facility is likely a long way off.
The California-based company plans on eventually building a factory in Europe, Automotive News Europe says, citing an interview with Musk. But Musk says Tesla would have to sell 160,000 vehicles a year in Europe to justify such a factory. Musk sees that many sales as a given, eventually, and is planning on building an R&D center in the UK within the next two years while expanding its assembly factory in the Netherlands.
But just how long might it take to get to that 160,000 figure across the Pond? Well, through the first four months of the year, Tesla sold 3,467 units of its Model S electric sedans in Europe, Automotive News says, citing research firm JATO Dynamics. Extrapolating from Tesla's first-quarter 2014 delivery numbers (the company doesn't publish monthly sales totals), Tesla sold about 8,600 Model S sedans worldwide through April. Even if Tesla speeds things up in Europe this year and approaches, say, 15,000 units, that's still less than 10 percent of Musk's goal. Even with new models, 15,000 is a long way from 160,000, and it appears that Tesla will grow slower in Europe than it has in the US.
"It will take Tesla a bit longer to ramp up in Western Europe than in the US" – Ed Kim
"It will take Tesla a bit longer to ramp up in Western Europe than in the US," Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific, told AutoblogGreen. "This is partially due to infrastructure issues. In the US, most potential Tesla customers live in detached single family homes, making installation of a personal charging infrastructure at home a snap. In Western Europe, many potential customers – even affluent ones – live in communal living situations like condos and apartments. And even having assigned parking does not guarantee that they would be able to install chargers there."
Earlier this year, Tesla dropped the prices of its Model S in Europe because of the strengthening of the Euro. The company initially priced the Model S in the UK at almost $20,000 above the US base price. At the Geneva Motor Show, Musk said that the company was in the process of expanding its Supercharger network of fast-charging units across Europe.