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.

"It will take Tesla a bit longer to ramp up in Western Europe than in the US" – Ed Kim

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, 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.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 14 Comments
      thecommentator2013
      • 8 Months Ago
      Show those arrogant Europeans what you can pull off!!
      Spec
      • 8 Months Ago
      Seriously people . . . Elon (wisely) says off the cuff remarks for marketing purposes. Don't believe it all. He's got a big factory that is not even close to at capacity.
      Grendal
      • 8 Months Ago
      They'll need a European gigafactory before they ever make cars there.
        purrpullberra
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        I'd think that would be difficult. How would he source the raw materials 'locally' in any way? I thought the gigafactory1 would supply China and Europe for quite a while including when/if manufacturing moved to each continent. 500,000 battery packs a year=160k cars in Europe+160k cars in US+180k cars in China a year. Then gigafactory2 opens in the US.
          Grendal
          • 8 Months Ago
          @purrpullberra
          Works for me but the current factory can make 500K cars. So why open a European factory unless you're making more than the gigafactory can supply? It implies that you're making more than both can supply. He's also said he'd build a Chinese factory to cover Asia. I'll file this under: Dream Big.
      purrpullberra
      • 8 Months Ago
      I wonder if Elon has ever just said, "no comment." Or even, "it's way too early to talk about that." He's human so he's going to make some mistakes. 1.Saying Tesla will be building in China in 4-5 years, weird. 2.Hyperloop, absolutely bonkers impossible. 3.Talk of a factory in Europe and R&D center in UK in 2 years, pure BS. I'd rather not go on. He's the opposite of the proverbial 'broken clock': always completely awesome except for the rare, but regular, insane impossibilities. Gotta love it though. I'm not sure why they'd even want an R&D center in the UK. What would they do that couldn't be done in CA? Car designers go all over the world so why build offices spread all over the place? Am I missing something, some factor? London is awesome, I'm not knocking the place or people btw.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @purrpullberra
        The Hyperloop has been independently proven to be technically sound in concept, and a short version is being planned for Israel. Building in Europe and China makes sense because you want to cut down the logistics and environmental impact of shipping cars all around the world. None of the 3 points you mention are "insane impossibilities".
        • 8 Months Ago
        @purrpullberra
        He has often said "I cant talk about that". Of course everything depends on how Tesla sells, and especially on when they launch the "budget" car and how its received. But if Tesla continues to develop as it has, then I'm sure the things Musk say will come true.
        Spec
        • 8 Months Ago
        @purrpullberra
        The Hyperloop is definitely possible. Yes, a lot of the statements are marketing puffery . . . nothing wrong with that. It is our job to sort the wheat from the chaff.
        paulwesterberg
        • 8 Months Ago
        @purrpullberra
        Musk is a futurist and excited about how technology and energy efficiency can transform society, but his aspirations are achievable based on refinements of existing technology and mathematical analysis of energy consumption. He hasn't bought into bullshit stuff like solar roadways when we have so many better places to put solar panels.
      NestT
      • 8 Months Ago
      Model S + Model X + 3rd Gen Sedan + 3rd Gen SUV/CUV > 160k units in each of the three major markets of Europe,China and the USA. Once the battery supply issue is resolved.
      • 8 Months Ago
      That is stupid. With the same argument they could have abandoned the Model S-factory, because from Roadster sales 15.000 would have been a long way off. For new, more sold models you have to build the factories some years before you begin to sell them. What I think, is that they don't want to risk too much at the moment.
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