• Jul 8th 2010 at 4:40PM
  • 27
Tesla has, if nothing else, crafted a unique automobile in the Roadster. It's electric, very attractive and highly desirable. Up next, assuming all goes according to plan (a rather big assumption, granted), the Model S sedan will be equally special in the global automotive marketplace.

Such machines deserve an equally unique buying experience and the Silicon Valley firm has hired former Apple and Gap Executive George Blankenship to turn that idea into reality as Vice President of Design and Store Development.

Blankenship will go right to work, with his initial projects said to include opening Tesla Stores in Tokyo, Toronto and Washington, DC. For his part, Blankenship sounds ready to take on the project, saying:
Joining Tesla allows me to work with some of the boldest and brightest people on the planet while changing the world for the better. I'm excited to create a retail experience that is as thrilling as my first drive of the Tesla Roadster.
Judging from his past efforts, we are expecting big things from Tesla's retail developments... and it sounds like Elon Musk got a head start on his wish to make his Tesla Stores "a cross between an Apple Store, a Starbucks and a good kitchen."

[Source: Tesla]
Show full PR text
Tesla Hires Apple, Gap Veteran to Revolutionize Car Buying Experience George Blankenship to Build Tesla's Global Store Network in Advance of the Model S

PALO ALTO, CA – Tesla Motors today announced that it has hired former Apple and Gap Executive George Blankenship as Vice President of Design and Store Development. Blankenship will build Tesla's retail strategy and network.

Blankenship, 57, brings thirty years of international retail and real estate experience to Tesla. Best known as the architect of Apple's brand building retail strategy that raised the bar for customer experience in retail stores, Blankenship joins Tesla most recently from Microsoft. As Apple's Vice President of Real Estate, he created one of the most successful retail growth strategies in history. Apple has repeatedly been recognized by Fortune Magazine as America's Best Retailer. Blankenship brings that experience to Tesla. Through his work creating Apple stores around the world, Blankenship defined and executed an International "Smart Growth Hit List" that encompassed major cities in Asia, Europe and North America. As Vice President for Real Estate Strategy for Gap, Inc., Blankenship managed the growth of over 250 stores per year worldwide while establishing an energy-efficient, environmentally forward-thinking retail growth process.

"George has a record of building customer-focused stores that revolutionize their industries, and he does it on time and on budget. There is simply no one better, he is the ideal candidate for Tesla," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "With George's leadership, I have no doubt Tesla will have the best retail experience in the auto industry as we continue to grow and prepare to launch the Model S."

Tesla is revolutionizing the auto purchasing experience. Unlike traditional car dealerships, Tesla stores are designed to be stylish and inviting. Blankenship will build a long-term retail development plan to give customers the opportunity to purchase cars and learn about Tesla technology. Blankenship's initial projects will include opening Tesla stores in Tokyo, Japan, Toronto, Canada, and Washington, DC.

"Joining Tesla allows me to work with some of the boldest and brightest people on the planet while changing the world for the better, " said Blankenship. "I'm excited to create a retail experience that is as thrilling as my first drive of the Tesla Roadster."

Tesla stores are also the service hub for Tesla Rangers, the mobile service program that provides house-calls for service. The innovative program gives customers peace of mind no matter where they live. Tesla Rangers travel to customer homes or offices for services including annual inspections and firmware upgrades.

About Tesla

Tesla's goal is to produce increasingly affordable electric cars to mainstream buyers – relentlessly driving down the cost of EVs. Palo Alto, CA-based Tesla has delivered more than 1200 Roadsters to customers in North America, Europe and Asia. Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. It is currently the only automaker in the U.S. that builds and sells highway-capable EVs in serial production. The Tesla Roadster accelerates faster than most sports cars yet produces no emissions. Tesla Service Rangers make house calls to service Roadsters.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Key words: "...nothing else..."

      It is revolutionary to have a buying experience that includes virtually no product.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Another reason their stock dropped.
        • 5 Years Ago
        exactly... why do they even need a strategist when they literally have nothing to sell.
        Car market doesn't work like housing market...
        • 5 Years Ago
        How do you think Apple has done so well with the iPhone? You can barely make phone calls with one!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well said.

        I cant think of anything more to add. Haha
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great. Now we are going to have a car that's all fluff and marketing, and zero substance... just like Apple products.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not to make this an argument about computers. But Apple actually doesn't spend a lot in marketing, they're just really good at it. (http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2008/11/Microsoft_vs_Apple_advertising_spending_The_real_numbers_to_watch34958459.html)

        Also you're just trolling if you think Apple computers don't have substance.
        • 5 Years Ago

        It indeed is the shiny hardware for the front end, the actual work that's done is by machines that are much more powerful (and expensive) than consumer grade computers. I think it's because of the common misconception that macs "do graphics stuff". While they were a bit better a decade or so ago, both macs and pc's perform at the same level. The big difference is PC's are cheaper and have much more software to choose from.

        Apple is a marketing company first, and a computer company second. Which is precisely why Tesla would be going after the retail strategist, if Tesla has/gets more money, more people from Apple may show up in the administrative ranks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "That's why EVERY recording studio, editing suite and design house I've ever been to runs Apple computers exclusively. "

        That is because of the software only. Hardware is identical to PCs....but packaged into a shiny case.
        My $1300 Dell has better components than the $2000 iMac.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "That's why EVERY recording studio, editing suite and design house I've ever been to runs Apple computers exclusively."

        Not true. The Apple operating system can't run most 3D programs, so you are wrong..it's mainly the graphic design studios that use Apple, the rest uses PC.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hear if you hold the wheel at "10 and 2" the motor's power is reduced by 93%...probably a good thing they got Apple marketing involved. Hello firmware update!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Apple stores look like hospitals designed by Ikea. I barely trust the pretentious hipster trash that works there to ring up my order using my credit card. Why would I want to experience that while buying a car? I wouldn't go in at all if my company hadn't bought me an iPad and an iPhone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If they can't even make money on the Lotus derived car that they don't even build how in the world will they be profitable making a brand new sedan from scratch? and cheaper?

      • 5 Years Ago
      He'll be gone within 9 months. No one lasts long at Tesla.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Did you see their stock price?
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's a great idea since Tesla and Apple share a similar philosophy of form over function. As long as it looks pretty and is deemed hip, the target audience will take out a second mortgage to acquire it, but most thinking people will laugh at them.

      Electrics will not catch on until two things happen:

      1) We learn to create on demand lighting
      2) We learn how to send the lightning directly to the flux capacitor

      Until we can charge an electric instantly (or as close to instant as pumping a tank of gas anyway) then electric vehicles will remain a tiny niche market. FAR to many people live where there is no garage to plug it in at night and even more drive more then a 1/6 of a tank in a day on a pretty regular basis. Who cares that on AVERAGE people drive less then 40 miles a day when that takes into account days they do not drive at all along with days they drive 400 miles or more. Gas cars can do either, electrics need a few days to fully charge on a standard 110V outlet. Solar charging would take WEEKS. Gas is not going to be replaced by a more restrictive form of power. It's really just that simple.

      So Tesla will be like the Apple computer of the car world in that, like Mac computers they'll occupy some portion of the 3% of the total market that electrics will make up and they'll stay there.

      • 5 Years Ago
      He was there in the early Apple Store days, but his job was really to choose locations - he took a gamble by placing a high-tech store in ordinary retail areas and high-end non-tech malls, but if y'all are thinking he's going to make Tesla dealers the next Apple Stores, that probably won't be the case. If Musk hired Ron Johnson, who really established the Apple Store ethos (and then let it die and be replaced with cold calculated retail capitalism since 2008 or so), then we might expect to see that.

      Then again, its not like this guy didn't pay any attention to the Apple Stores outside of choosing where they were located, so maybe my theory is wrong.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's moves like these that will doom Tesla. The company is so hell bent on changing EVERYTHING about the automobile industry that they will fail for being too ambitious when they should focus completely on building a competitive product that has mass potential.

      I know marketing and sizzle and the customer experience all matter, but there's nothing so wrong about Mercedes, BMW and Audi dealers (i.e. popular brands around the $60K mark that the Tesla S will supposedly sell for) that would keep people from driving a well-designed luxury electric car if it were offered by one of these established nameplates. Tesla will piss away money trying to change the way distribution works when they probably don't even have enough resources to build a competitive car. They're biting off far more than they can chew.

      If a simple Tesla Roadster costs $130K when based on a $50K Lotus, why is there any reason to think the larger, more sophisticated and more luxurious Tesla S will cost $60K? Add to that the cost that Tesla will have to bake in to "reinvent the car buying experience" and the company reaks of impending failure unless they can raise a LOT more cash.

      By the time the Tesla S comes out, even if it really costs $60K, there will be compelling hybrids and possibly electrics by mainstream companies who have R&D budgets and economies of scale that Tesla can't come close to matching. Why does anyone believe the Tesla S will succeed financially?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is a gorgeous car.

      Too bad it doesn't have a normal, practical drivetrain that isn't handicapped by having hundreds of pounds of lithium batteries on board that take huge amounts of current and large amounts of time to re-charge.

      I would love a boxer 4, 6, or 8 cylinder engine under the hood, but behind the front axle line, and a dual-clutch gearbox transaxle between the rear wheels. If not gasoline burning, at least LPG.

      If you want to get fancy... maybe a mild hybrid, with a generator/motor array, connected to the front of the engine, between the front wheels for front-wheel electric drive assist, and regenerative braking. It would also possibly add torque to the engine's crankshaft, both as a starter, and a torque booster to the power-train.

      Basically a mild hybrid AWD that disassociates the need for the engine to be forward of the front axle line to mechanically drive the front wheels from the transmission output.

      In a Sedan, Coupe, and aerodynamic wagon bodystyle that look like the Model S sedan, they could do really well.

      Trying to conquer the drawbacks of electrical energy storage as the on-board source, is not as technically feasible. Mechanical drive, or electric drive are do-able. It is electric power storage that is currently well inferior to liquid or liquified gas fuel tanks, in terms of energy capacity, and re-fill considerations.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I got an idea Tesla...BUILD SOME DAMN CARS! You guys are a constant hype machine, have been for years and what do you have to show for it? One...count 'em ONE production vehicle that shares its chassis with another vehicle...I mean WTF? When are people going to see this company is 90% rainbows and pipe dreams?
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