So, is Tesla Motors having trouble selling vehicles in Europe? Recently, BNET's Jim Motovalli spoke with Tesla's vice president of European sales, Christiano Carlutti, who said that selling the all-electric sports car in Europe was "complicated." Add this to the fact that the California company has only sold 300 cars in Europe since starting sales last year and you can see that the question of a "Europe problem " for Tesla is a legitimate one. According to Tesla spokeswoman Rachel Konrad, though, there is no problem. In fact, "It's quite the contrary, my friends."
Konrad told AutoblogGreen that no one should interpret Carlutti's comments as a "problem." She continued:
You can read her entire comment, none of which directly addresses sales figures, after the jump. When we asked for sales numbers by month – to give Tesla a chance to show that sales are climbing, stable or whatever – all Konrad would offer is Tesla's second-quarter filings (available here) to the SEC and to say that:In fact, European sales are quite strong. The first EU Roadster was delivered about a year ago – yet in that relatively short time Tesla has already delivered about 300 cars throughout the continent – from Narvik, Norway (220 kms north of the Arctic Circle) to southern Italy. There are Roadster owners spanning the continent, quite literally from Ireland to Russia, from Malta and southern Italy to Scandinavia.
Of course, the 300 number needs to be put into perspective with some similar (or more expensive) sports cars. According to Bloomberg, it looks like Porsche will sell all 356 units of the limited-production 911 Speedster it will make (cost: $204,000) while Ferrari has sold all 80 of its SA Apertas – at a cost of 400,000 euros ($547,080 U.S. at today's exchange rate). High-end automakers are not immune to the economic slump, but there are buyers out there.The data in the SEC reports reflects worldwide revenue. Tesla does not break out revenue from individual companies. As I've said, we've delivered (sold, delivered to customer and counted as revenue) about 300 cars in the EU since sales began last year.
Tesla VP Cristiano Carlutti indeed told a blogger recently that Europe was a "complicated" market – meaning that the EU has 27 member countries and nearly as many languages, not to mention non-member countries that are obviously European such as Switzerland. But no one should interpret this as a "problem." In fact, European sales are quite strong. The first EU Roadster was delivered about a year ago – yet in that relatively short time Tesla has already delivered about 300 cars throughout the continent – from Narvik, Norway (220 kms north of the Arctic Circle) to southern Italy. There are Roadster owners spanning the continent, quite literally from Ireland to Russia, from Malta and southern Italy to Scandinavia.
Had you actually looked into the issue of EV sales in Europe, you would have discovered that – quite contrary to a "problem" – Europe in many ways represents the world's best market for the Roadster, which is twice as energy efficient as a leading hybrid. Northern Europeans pay roughly three times what some Americans pay for gasoline, while their electricity bills are not nearly so high, making an EV a tremendous value. (For instance, it costs about 1.5 pence to drive a mile in the Roadster in the UK, and by contrast it costs up to 35 pence per mile to drive a conventional high-performance sports car one mile.)
Europe also has some compelling incentives for customers who make the environmentally and socially responsible choice. For instance, the Roadster qualifies for a 100 percent writing down allowance in the UK, an extremely valuable tax benefit for business owners. Roadster buyers also pay 0 percent additional tax on their cars in Norway and Denmark, compared to up to 180 percent for a comparable high-performance gas guzzler. There are some cities in Europe – such as Zermatt, Switzerland – where you can't even drive a gas guzzler into the city center! And as you can probably guess, in those cities, Roadsters have the run of the road. But – before you report inaccurately that the reason Tesla is successful in Europe is because of incentives – you should be fully aware that many countries do not have any incentives whatsoever, and Tesla has done quite well there too because it competes against conventional sports cars on performance and design. Germany, which has no tax incentives to speak of on EVs and is home to some of the world's most discerning sports car fanatics, is Tesla's second largest market to the USA, followed by Switzerland, which is far and away Tesla's largest per capita market worldwide. UK, France, Scandinavia and the low countries (Netherlands and Belgium) have also become thriving markets for Tesla.
Finally, Europeans are also very proud – rightfully so – of some of the progress that they've made cleaning up their electricity grids. In Norway, for instance, the hydroelectricity-dominant grid means that the Roadster is essentially carbon neutral! Ditto in Iceland, though replace hydro with geothermal. In Germany, customers can simply check a box on their monthly utility bill to get the cleanest possible energy (including a high percentage of solar and wind energy) delivered to their home. In Spain, Italy and Switzerland, we have customers who live "off the grid" and charge their cars entirely with solar energy.
I am happy to put you in touch with our EU customers and, of course, I can also talk to you at greater length about this – though I wish I could have done so before your article, which implies that Tesla is having a "problem" in Europe. It's quite the contrary, my friends.