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Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA.O) plans to drive into the center of Canada’s struggling oil patch with two new dealerships set to open in downtown Calgary over the next year -- the first for the company in Alberta.
While an electric-driven luxury vehicle with a cash price of up to $78,300 for the most basic model may sound like a tough sell in a town suffering from the dramatic fall in oil prices, and famously known for pickup trucks and pipelines, Troy Jones, Tesla’s senior regional sales manager, says Calgary already has plenty of Teslas on the road and expects demand to increase.
“It’s actually the perfect market for us,” said Jones. “The adoption has been overwhelming. We are looking at multiple locations now. Our demand is increasing pretty aggressively.”
Calgary’s economy has been hard hit by low oil prices as energy producers and refiners slash spending and cut jobs. The price for Western Canadian Select – the benchmark price obtained by most Alberta producers – has fallen by roughly 50 percent since 2014.
Jones says despite the high cost relative to other vehicles, the four-door Model S sedan makes sense economically. He says drivers can travel 430 km for roughly $9. He adds Tesla’s biggest challenge is fighting the perception that long trips will be difficult, and charging stations are few and far between.
“People have a lot of questions. Our goal is to educate them. How do I drive from here to the States? How do I drive from here to Vancouver? I think when people understand how easy it is to charge at home with all the charging solutions. It really becomes a non-item,” says Jones.
Tesla has seven boutique-style gallery locations in Canada where customers can test out a vehicle. Jones says Tesla buyers range from 21-year-old technology savvy young people to environmentally-minded grandparents.
“We really don’t have one profile. You have the person focused on performance and wants to do zero to 100 km in less than three seconds and you have someone who doesn’t want to buy gas anymore,” he said. “I can promise you that we want to grow and will continue growing.”