Tesla has received both critical acclaim and financial gain for its successful Model S sedan, and has followed this up with the development of the Model X SUV. At the same time, Tesla has planned to rapidly grow their supercharger network throughout North America and Europe and expand into the Asian market. Where does this leave Tesla in the Middle East? The Tesla Roadster has already been spotted in the region, particularly in cities like Dubai. Could the new Model X be the Tesla car that breaks into the mainstream market?
Tesla’s Global Expansion
Tesla Motors has been busy over the past year, producing over 500 Model S (pictured above) units per week and opening new stores worldwide. Tesla’s stores provide a unique car buying experience, using touch screen technology modelled on Apple’s retail design. At the same time that it has boosted production of the Model S to meet high demand, Tesla has also been working on launching new Supercharger network locations, not only in North America but throughout Europe.
And Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, has suggested that the company is considering opening new factories in Europe and Asia in the future. While at the moment there has been no mention of expanding into the Middle Eastern market, it seems natural that as global expansion grows it would travel into the region if there is customer demand.
Features of the New Model X
The Model S has earned rave reviews and launched to strong preliminary sales, but Tesla has been working hard on the new Model X SUV. One interesting feature that will set this model apart is a set of rear doors that open vertically, providing easy access to the car’s interior.
These wing-like doors are just one of the unique features of the Model X, however. Teaser images show that the Model X will look quite like a taller, boxier Model S, with similar interior touch screens and exterior contours. Yet in addition to the falcon-wing doors, the Model X will also feature a third row of front-facing seats, to accommodate families more easily. It will also potentially be outfitted with all-wheel drive, which could be attractive to Middle Eastern buyers looking to dune bash.
There will also be a sporty Performance-oriented model, as with the Model S. This will allow the Model X to hit 60 mph in under five seconds.
Challenges to Overcome in the Middle East
Historically, there have been slower sales of electric vehicles in the Middle East in comparison to other markets. With lower fuel costs, there is simply less economic demand for Tesla cars or other electric vehicles. However, as the cost of electric cars falls, it could make more economic sense to purchase them. This has already been seen in other markets.
The low-cost Nissan Leaf has been a best-seller in Europe, and Citroen offers at Carsales make the new C-Zero a more affordable option in the Australian market. Tesla’s founder has stated that it’s a priority to lower the starting cost of new Tesla vehicles. Although the Tesla Roadster debuted at a starting price of $100,000, the Model S costs half that.
When the new Model X comes out in a couple of years, it could be even lower in price which may entice budget-minded Middle Eastern buyers. There has also been a wider interest in environmental issues throughout the region which may trump cost-savings on fuel – which in some Middle East countries is practically free.
As Tesla continues to expand its brand, it seems only a matter of time before this Californian automaker crosses over into the Middle East.