If you're wondering why a budding electric sports car company would plop its first Orange County dealership on a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach where gaz-guzzling Bentleys, Porsches and Beemers have been sold, it's all in the sticker price.
Silicon Valley automaker Tesla Motors plans to take over the palatial dealership on Mariner's Mile--and across PCH from the tony Balboa Bay Club--that Rolls-Royce vacated in 2008, reports the Orange County Register.
(The paper could not get confirmation of the move from Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn, despite a sign outside the dealership announcing a hearing at which plans for "Tesla Motors of Newport Beach" will be reviewed. She would only say Orange County is an important market to the San Carlos-based, plug-in automaker.)
The dealership plans will apparently be reviewed on March 1, but there's no word on when it would actually open.
Whenever it comes, that stretch of Nouveau Riche is a perfect fit for Tesla, whose Roadster, which can travel nearly 250 miles on a single charge and go from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, will sell for $111,000.
Maybe the presence of Tesla will give a swift kick in the accelerator to car sales that have floundered in that same area in recent years. (Remember the abandoned luxury dealership across from Billy's at the Beach that used to have its own Ruby's Diner inside?)
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Indeed, since some local high-end buyers find themselves facing the same financial decisions as the rest of us (Do I cut the maid's hours, keep the yacht docked this weekend or just fly business class for awhile?), a hundred grand and change for something being plugged in like a lava lamp might elicit double takes.
Fortunately, new 2010 Tesla Roadsters or Roadster Sports can be leased under three-year, 30,000 mile contracts, with monthly payments as low as $1,658. At the end of this new lease program just announced by the automaker, leasees can purchase the Roadster or walk away for a fee.
(Considering the 248 horsepower behind the two-seater's driver, don't forget to factor in sports-car insurance.)
As for the rest of us, Tesla will roll out its Model S electric sedans, which will cost about $50,000 after tax incentives, in 2011. Maybe they can hawk those up on one of the abandoned weed gardens along "Harbor Boulevard of Cars" in Costa Mesa. Or across Jamboree Road from that scummy Fletcher Jones joint.