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Tucked into the exciting announcement about the availability of Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3 was a significant change to the company’s operations. Tesla surprised watchers with news that it plans to close many of its 378 retail stores worldwide.
It’s not immediately clear how many stores or employees will be effected by the change. Tesla said it plans to operate an online-only sales model.
“Shifting all sales online, combined with other ongoing cost efficiencies, will enable us to lower all vehicle prices by about 6% on average, allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected,” the company said.
“Over the next few months, we will be winding down many of our stores, with a small number of stores in high-traffic locations remaining as galleries, showcases and Tesla information centers.”
Stores have been a pain for Tesla. Some states’ dealership laws have kept them from opening stores, while others allowed them to showcase the vehicles without taking orders. It seems the company would be glad to be rid of the legal wrangling necessary to open stores.
“The important thing for customers in the United States to understand is that, with online sales, anyone in any state can quickly and easily buy a Tesla,” the company said in a blog post.
Tesla also said it wants to make it easier to try out and return a car. Consumers can now return a car within seven days or 1,000 miles for a full refund.
“Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free,” the post said.