In a major shift, Tesla announced that it will only sell its vehicles online. The electric carmaker will close most of its stores over the “next few months” and lay off some retail employees. Tesla announced the move at the same time it said it will finally begin to sell its long-promised $35,000 Model 3.
Customers who purchase their Teslas online will have up to a week to return the car if they aren’t satisfied. In a call with reporters Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he was confident that few customers would exercise this option. The move to e-commerce will help Tesla cut some operating expenses, as well as avoid dealing with local politics that have prevented it from operating its own stores in certain states including Connecticut, New Mexico and others.
Tesla will keep some of its retail locations open, which the company described as “a small number of stores in high-traffic locations remaining as galleries, showcases and Tesla information centers.” And there will be “some headcount reduction” as a result of the shift, Musk said Thursday.
Musk wouldn’t say how many employees can expect to lose their jobs, nor whether these layoffs were factored into the “company-wide restructuring” that was announced in June 2018. “It is a hard decision but I think it’s the right decision for the future,” he said.