Tesla Breaks Ground in One of the Most Valuable European Markets

“The U.K. is likely to be one of our most significant markets,” Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said at an event commemorating the launch of the new right-hand drive Model S sedan, designed for the Scottish, English, Irish, and Welsh regions. For automakers already operating in Europe, Musk was emphasizing something they already knew — that the U.K. is one of the powerhouse economies behind the continent’s modestly growing auto sector, which is still picking up steam after being hit severely when the financial markets went south in 2008.

Musk said that advance orders in the U.K are quite strong, alluding to “only” a four-month waiting period for one of the new electric cars. The company is also doubling down on its efforts to expand its supercharging network there, hoping to have southern England covered by the end of the year (with all of the British Isles covered by the end of next year, Musk said). He added that Tesla will be spending “tens of millions” of dollars on rolling out the U.K.’s charging infrastructure, as the company has done here in the United States.

Tesla is already enjoying sales success in Norway, where high taxes on non-electric cars and a gratuitous EV subsidy program make the company’s $70,000-plus sedan almost too good to pass up. Other markets, like the economic stronghold that is Germany, have been slower to welcome the Tesla brand, as its residents are known to be quite loyal to one of Germany’s three major luxury automakers.

Though Tesla’s deliveries to countries like Norway are still fractional when compared to the sales figures the company enjoys in the States, Musk believes that once the company’s supply constraints are relieved, demand in Europe, China, and North America will be about even. The right-hand drive Model S is a significant car for Tesla, as it also opens up the New Zealand, Australia, and Japanese markets as possibilities (as well as India, South Africa, and Indonesia).