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Tesla CEO fights for new electric-car sales model in U.S.

Tesla CEO fights for new electric-car sales model in U.S.
By Deepa Seetharaman and Corrie MacLaggan
DETROIT/AUSTIN, TEXAS | Tue Jun 4, 2013 11:35pm EDT
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By Deepa Seetharaman and Corrie MacLaggan

DETROIT/AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc, criticized the traditional way of selling cars in the United States and indicated the model would hamper the 10-year-old U.S. automaker’s growth prospects.

Tesla is pushing to sell its Model S electric sedan directly to consumers rather than relying on a network of independent dealers. These efforts have met stiff resistance from dealer groups around the country.

“The auto dealers association is definitely creating some problems for us, making it harder to get things done,” Musk said during Tesla’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

The annual meeting comes after a string of positive news in the last month for Tesla, including its first-ever quarterly profit and a near-perfect score for the Model S from the influential Consumer Reports magazine.

As a result, Tesla shares have nearly tripled this year. On Tuesday, Musk said the company’s gross margins could approach those of sports-car maker Porsche AG “over time.”

Tesla is now beefing up its sales operations in anticipation of growing Model S sales. The company expects to have 50 stores by the end of the year, up from 34 during the first quarter.

More http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE95403C20130605?irpc=932

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