Just as Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) introduces a modified Model S sedan with right-hand drive slated for the U.K. market, the company also said that once European sales reach 160,000 units per year, the company will look into building a facility in the region, Automotive News reports.
Tesla is also planning to open a European research and development center in the U.K. either next year or the year after, and will expand its final assembly plant, Tilburg, in the Netherlands, where batteries are reinstalled back into Tesla vehicles imported into Europe from the United States, according to Automotive News. Tesla’s release of a right-hand drive model is crucial in working toward these goals, as the U.K. is among one of the most robust automotive markets in Europe.
“My aspirations for Europe are that we sell a comparable number of cars in Europe as the U.S.,” Musk told Automotive News Europe at an event in London that marked the delivery of the first Model S sedans in the U.K. Tesla sold nearly 23,000 units globally last year as the company continues to work through its order backlog; it’s aiming for production of 35,000 units for 2014.
Norway is currently Tesla’s largest European customer, but it’s expected that the U.K. will overtake the Scandinavian country once deliveries are underway. The U.K.-edition Model S begins at 49,900 pounds (61,770 euros, or $83,249) and is sold at the company’s only current U.K. dealership, in London’s Westfield shopping mall, Automotive News said.