Tesla opened its first retail store and service centre on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road Wednesday night. The 17,000 square foot space features the brand’s award-winning, all-electric Model S and Model X.
The brand had announced its arrival in both the UAE and Jordan this year, inviting customers to visit its online design studio and order the vehicles, with the first orders of the Model S and Model X vehicles already in the UAE by June 2017.
Customers at the event showed strong interest and confidence in electric cars.
Tesla buyer Anas Al Halabi, who has ordered the yet-to-be-launched Model 3, is excited. “It’s a fantastic [initiative] that Tesla has created. They’ve [driven] demand that should have been there for a long time. They’ve made the car into a consumer product. I don’t own one, but I’ve ordered the Model 3. I think it’s even rubbed off on my family members. They’re even excited to own one,” he told Arabian Business.
Al Halabi, who has personal interests in the solar industry, said the practicality and value for money for the bottom-end models are also what attracted him to the brand.
“Tesla is something I support and I would love to champion. They make a strong case and obviously their quality is where their mouth is,” he said.
Mohammed Ahmed Bani Hashim, an advisor at the department of economic development, Dubai Government, said he had been following Tesla’s projects long before the brand revealed its plans to come to the UAE.
“In fact, before they came here, I sent them an e-mail requesting to buy a Tesla and have them send it to me. This was sometime last year. And they said they don’t have a plan [to come to the UAE] yet. So I was waiting until they announced it. By that time, I had booked the Model 3, which will come next year, hopefully before that, but they said it will arrive in the summer of 2018,” Bani Hashim said.
According to Tesla, all vehicles produced in its factory, including the Model 3, will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.
Bani Hashim said he believes autonomous driving can prevent accidents by alerting the driver and controlling the breaks.
Tesla, which is likely to enable its autonomous driving feature for its cars in Dubai by year-end, also expects to invest millions in the UAE’s electric car infrastructure over the coming years, according to its CEO Elon Musk.
In addition to home charging, the firm designed charging sites including Superchargers and Destination chargers across the UAE.
It currently has two Supercharger sites in the country, with three more planned by the end of the year. This allows drivers to charge their vehicles in minutes instead of hours.
Tesla also has 32 Destination Charging locations in the gulf country, with at least 18 more scheduled to launch in the next six months.
Nour Halabi, a venture capitalist in Dubai, said he is considering buying a Tesla because it cuts back fuel consumption.
“I currently have a hobby in cycling and I’m a single guy so I’m looking for something that’s compact and obviously cuts down on a lot of the fuel consumption because I always travel between Dubai, Al Ain and Hatta. I’m doing long distances, so it’s something that I’m definitely looking at it because it’s friendlier than my current car,” he said.
“It’s the package, because if you have a Tesla and then you have a solar roof in your house, then it’s completed the whole autonomous feeling; the whole smart home, smart life [theme]. I find the warranty they have, which is up to 8 years, very good. It becomes like the iPhone of cars. If it doesn’t work, we just switch it for you,” Halabi said.
He said he is not concerned about potential dangers related to autonomous driving. “I have concerns about mini bus drivers and taxis in Dubai. I’ve survived that [so] I don’t have an issue with a robot driving anybody.”
Halabi said one concern he might have about Tesla is it resulting in RTA’s raising of parking prices.
Tesla’s Model S accelerates from 0 to 100kph in just 2.7 seconds, while its SUV, the Model X, accelerates from 0 to 100kph in 3.1 seconds.
Prices start at $76,599 (AED281,350) for Model S, and $90,527 (AED332,500) for Model X.
Customers who wish to sign up for a test drive can do so at www.tesla.comFor all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.