Tesla’s newest, largest and first retail-only store in Australia opened last week. Gizmodo took a look at the electric car maker’s premiere location in Australia, which occupies a prime position in Sydney’s Martin Place, next door to Apple, with thousands of well-heeled pedestrians passing every day.
The two-storey store is one of Tesla’s largest around the world, with over 500 square metres of floorspace across both its levels. The ground floor has a street entrance at 20 Martin Place, and usually houses three Tesla Model S all-electric sedans as well as Tesla’s unique ‘skateboard’ rolling chassis, which stores its flat lithium-ion battery in the floorpan between the four wheels, as well as the car’s single or twin electric motors slung low in the centre of each axle.
Located in the central block of Sydney’s Martin Place open-air pedestrian mall in the centre of the city’s central business district, the new store is the third physical location for Tesla in Australia, following the first store — a combined service centre and retail showroom on Sydney’s north shore — and a second service centre at Richmond in Melbourne. Tesla also runs pop-up locations in shopping centres around the country.
The large, glass-fronted store doesn’t have a rear entrance for cars to be moved in and out of the store, so the company has to use low-traffic periods at night to move its Model S sedans — which it sells to customers right off the show floor, if requested — through the front entrance using specially-made ramps to negotiate the steps. Only two cars are in the store at the moment, to make space for tonight’s celebrations.
The cars on display are some of the few examples of the face-lifted Tesla Model S currently available in Australia, which has a new front bumper with a smaller air contact patch, as well as updated LED headlights and the same “bioweapon defense mode”-grade HEPA cabin air filtration system as the Model X, and a design similar to the planned Model 3.
The store does have a private parking area downstairs, though, from which it will run pre-booked test drives of Model S, with three parking spaces fitted with Tesla’s High Power Wall Connector chargers — unfortunately unavailable for public use, unlike the North Shore and Richmond service centres. The store will also be adjusted to fit and display the Model X when the four-door SUV is launched in Australia before the end of the year.
As well as the cars on the display, the retail store also has Tesla’s now-familiar design studio, which showcases the various paint colours, seating, decor and headliner finishes available for both Model S and the future Model X. The different alloy wheel options are also shown, and a full range of Tesla-branded merchandise is available for any walk-in customer to buy — even if they aren’t also buying a $100,000-plus Model S.
An upstairs level houses two more design studios and more private spaces for customers to configure their cars with Tesla’s sales staff — the store will have around six employees working at any one time, with product experts and owner advisors on hand to explain the cars, the company’s east-coast-spanning Supercharger network, and at-home charging systems for the all-electric vehicles.
Like other Tesla stores, huge, wall-spanning art pieces and photographs show off the company’s cars, but the decor is otherwise minimalist and lets potential customers move around the store freely. The cars will, of course, be open for walk-in customers to sit in and try, and test drives will run from the store most hours of the day apart from peak on-road traffic periods.
The Martin Place store is next door to Apple Australia’s equally new, equally glamourous corporate offices, also located in the same block of Martin Place. Microsoft’s one and only flagship store is a short walk away in Pitt Street Mall, and the largest Apple Store in Australia — on Sydney’s George Street — is equally close. Like Apple and Microsoft’s stores, the Tesla retail location in Martin Place has floor-to-ceiling glass windows across both levels.
Tesla’s third, and most prestigiously located, retail store will open tomorrow morning. More stores are planned for the future, but Tesla isn’t disclosing their potential locations for now. The store opening coincides with Tesla’s Australian customers having traveled over nine million kilometres collectively, saving seven hundred thousand litres of fuel just within Australia, and the opening of over 100 destination chargers around the country with 75 more planned before the end of the year.
There’s a bonus for Tesla fans, too, hidden away at the back of the store. The Sydney showroom in Martin Place is only the second Tesla location — and the first retail store — to show off Tesla Energy’s Powerwall home energy battery storage system. The Powerwall isn’t sold directly through Tesla, but staff can direct potential customers to one of the company’s third-party suppliers and installers, who package the battery with an inverter and solar panels.
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