California is not just the home state of Tesla Motors, it’s also the biggest single U.S. market for electric cars.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that Tesla recently opened a huge new store in the Golden State that will serve as the flagship for its entire retail network.
Located in San Francisco, the store is the largest one Tesla has opened in North America so far.
The new flagship store encompasses 65,000 square feet, and handles sales, service, and deliveries, according to Bloomberg.
The location on Van Ness Avenue previously housed a Chevrolet showroom built in 1937 — the year the Golden Gate Bridge opened.
That street has long been known as San Francisco’s “Auto Row” for the number of dealerships that have been located along it over the decades.
Today, the Tesla flagship store sits near British Motor Cars, former home to mass-market imports from the U.K., which now sells Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Lamborghini cars.
Its new San Francisco store is part of a larger effort by Tesla Motors to expand its retail network in anticipation of the launch of the Model 3 electric car.
The Model 3 — which has already attracted almost 400,000 reservations — is crucial to meeting Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s stated goal of selling 500,000 cars per year by 2018.
That number represents roughly a 10-fold increase from Tesla’s 2015 production, and Musk bumped up the timeline several months ago from the original target of 2020.
In its second-quarter letter to shareholders, Tesla said it will add a new store location every four days throughout the end of this year.
Stores will be added in relatively new markets such as Taipei, Seoul, and Mexico City, as well as “our most mature markets like California,” the Tesla letter said.
Tesla presently has about 260 stores worldwide, and plans to have 300 open by the end of this year.
It hopes to expand that number to about 440 stores by the end of 2017.
The Model 3 should be in production by then, assuming Tesla meets its own deadline for the car’s launch.
That’s something the company has failed to accomplish with each of its previous car launches, though.
Tesla continues to face opposition from auto-dealer groups in several states, who view the company’s policy of selling cars directly to customers as a threat to their business model.