All-electric car company opens first dealership in San Diego

Tesla opens dealership at Westfield UTC mall

SAN DIEGO - A California car company that makes only electric cars opened its first showroom in San Diego Friday -- at a local shopping mall.

Tesla Motors opened a dealership in the middle of the Westfield UTC shopping mall, but not everyone is happy about the new store.

"A lot of people don't know about driving electric, so by putting our stores in these high foot traffic areas, we have the opportunity to reach people when they're not really thinking about buying a car," said Shanna Hendriks, communications manager for Tesla.

Tesla has similar showrooms in malls throughout California and some on the East Coast. The company's efforts have led to lawsuits from traditional dealership owners, who cite a law that dates to the beginning of the auto industry in the U.S. that says manufacturers can't own car dealerships. Tesla said they're confident the courts will side with them.

Now, the company is focused on selling a very unique set of fairly pricey wheels. Depending on the battery size that customers order, the cars range from about $57,000 to about $77,000, but buyers get a $7,500 federal rebate.

"It's a luxury vehicle, for sure, but it's a high-performance vehicle also," Hendriks said.

The most expensive Tesla can go from 0 to 60 mph in just over four seconds.

There are a lot of "wow" factors to the Tesla Model S sedan, but probably the biggest of them all, literally and figuratively, is a 17-inch screen in the middle of the dashboard. It controls everything on the car and, of course, the car is its own Wi-Fi hotspot.

Touch screens are the way customers learn about the car at the dealership. They can tell potential buyers just about everything, like how long the car can go on a charge. The Tesla can be plugged into either a standard outlet or the kind where a clothes dryer is plugged into. There is also a supercharger that can be installed in an owner's garage that cuts the charging time in half.

For those looking to buy a Tesla car, the time from ordering until it rolls up in your driveway is between eight months and a year.

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