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USA: The Auto Industry As You’ve Never Seen It Before

The idea of buying a car at your local shopping mall sounds a bit wacky — at least until you meet start-up electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NAS: TSLA) .
Forget everything you know about electric cars. Unlike the golf-cart designs of competing EVs, Tesla’s new Model S sedan promises superior performance to the tune of zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and a range of 300 miles for the high-end 85-kWh battery version, and all models get an interior complete with a 17-inch touchscreen computer. This is a company that’s shaking up the industry in more ways than one.
Changing the rules of retail
Buying a new car can be a daunting task. However, with the help of George Blankenship, vice president of worldwide sales for Tesla, the company’s retail strategy is nothing like the so-called dealership experience you’ve come to loathe. Blankenship’s 10-year history as Apple’s (NAS: AAPL) real estate chief makes him a perfect fit for Tesla as the Silicon Valley-based company attempts to reinvent the car-buying experience.

Tesla is opening mall stores around the country to showcase display models of its upcoming zero-emission cars. Mall-goers are welcome to take pictures, sit in the car, explore, and ask questions. “We want to engage with people when they’re not thinking about buying a car,” Blankenship insists. The first of these new concept stores is now open in White Plains, N.Y.
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