Luxury Autos Driving To Great Lengths To Engage Customers

Tesla is displaying its Model X SUV in a 400-square-foot, first-floor showroom next to racks of upscale attire in the Nordstrom department store in The Grove retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles.

“At the store on a hot afternoon, customers could step directly from the men's suits department into the Tesla display to check out a white Model X crossover with its upward-opening gull-wing rear doors or learn more about the cars' features. Test drives were being held in the parking lot,” reports Chris Woodyard for USA Today.

“We're getting a lot of people walking by,” product specialist Jonathan Rios tells Woodyard.

Well, that’s encouraging. Tesla is “working on obtaining a sales license for this location, which will allow us to not only demonstrate the vehicles, but to actually sell them as well,” a spokeswoman tells CNBC’s Krystina Gustafson.



“The Nordstrom shopper embodies a lifestyle that parallels that of many Tesla owners — people who are forward-thinking, savvy, and curious to explore the latest and best trends,” the spokeswoman says.

Tesla “has a history of opening locations in high-end malls and wealthy communities” and lists about 100 stores and galleries on its Web site, although the space at The Grove is significantly smaller than the typical 2,000 to 4,000 square feet showrooms, Gustafson points out.

From the Nordstrom perspective, spokesman Dan Evans tells USA Today’s Woodyard it “likes to create experience inside our store to make people want to come there. We’ve experimented and tried different things.”

“We can help you with the suit, but not the car,” Evans tells Chris Isidore for a piece in CNN Money. “We think it's a great partnership. We love bringing great brands into the store, brands people want to see.”

“Tesla has a unique approach (at least within the automotive industry) to selling its all-electric vehicles. The company sells its own cars directly online and through its own branded stores, not through franchised dealerships,” Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec reminds us in a piece published last week.

“It’s an approach that other automakers and dealers oppose and have actively fought against. Some states, like Texas and Arizona, have banned the direct sales model. In those states, Tesla can build a showroom — or gallery as it calls it — where customers can learn about the vehicles.”

On Gas2, Steve Hanley points out that Tesla last year hired former Burberry SVP Ganesh Srivats to be its North American sales manager. “While at Burberry, Srivats had many opportunities to work with Nordstrom,” he writes. “Now that association has turned into a partnership between Tesla and Nordstrom.”

In other Tesla news bobbing around, a YouTube video uploaded Friday shows a Tesla Model S “swimming” through a flooded tunnel in Kazakhstan. 

“We def don’t recommended this, but Model S floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time,” Elon Musk tweeted. “Thrust via wheel rotation.” 

The skipper/driver, meanwhile, caught flak in the comments section for dangerously driving into standing water, risking grave injury to his $70,000 vehicle and, primarily, for shooting a vertical video. 

In any event, be aware that “the Tesla Model S’s battery pack and cockpit are sealed, and presumably water resistant, but it’s not clear if trying to float your Tesla is a violation of your car’s warranty, so for now, it may be best not to try driving it through deep waters,” as Maya Kosoff advises in Vanity Fair.

Cadillac, meanwhile, has opened its Cadillac House on the ground floor of the company’s global headquarters on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan. It “will serve as a venue for rotating events including car exhibitions and collaborative programs with organizations such as art and culture magazine Visionaire and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA),” Stephanie Chan writes in the Hollywood Reporter

It also houses the Retail Lab, “an initiative by Cadillac and CFDA that allows designers to temporarily set up shop. The first designer to kick off the program will be Timo Weiland, who will sell his men's and women's collection in early July,” Chan reports.

Designed by global design firm Gensler, Cadillac House is intended “as a meeting place where innovators, creators and the curious can find inspiration — and one another,” according to a news release.

When they’re not co-mingling at the Apple Store, presumably.

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