Tesla Motors has opened a “gallery” at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station.
The location is designed to introduce the maker of electric-powered luxury cars to mainstream shoppers, said Dave Ackerman, director of marketing and business development at Walt Whitman Shops.
“You can touch them, go into them, and really see what they’re all about,” Ackerman said about the three-car gallery. “You can schedule a test drive, too, but you can’t drive the vehicles in the mall.”
The Palo Alto, California-based carmaker also has a gallery in East Hampton and a store in Manhasset. The Manhasset store is at the upscale Americana Manhasset shopping center.
Tesla also has a store at The Westchester, an upscale mall in White Plains.
While galleries like the one at Walt Whitman act as showrooms, Tesla only closes sales at locations it calls stores.
Tesla’s strategy for selling cars “goes outside the traditional dealership,” said Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. “They look at Apple as inspiration. They have a fancy display, and there isn’t a lot of pressure.”
Tesla sells two vehicles, the Model S sedan, which starts at around $70,000, and the Model X SUV, which starts above $80,000. Both are on display at the Walt Whitman location.
Production is scheduled to start later this year on a third model, the Model 3, a sedan that costs about $35,000. Tesla has already taken about 400,000 reservations from customers who want to buy the Model 3. It will have a range of 215 miles without recharging.
If the more affordable Model 3 sells in large numbers, it could force Tesla to rethink its distribution model, Montoya said.
“They don’t want to be traditional,” Montoya said. “But they’re going to have to find a way to have more inventory on hand.”