Tesla: Would you spend £33k in a minute on a smartphone? – leader comment

Electric car firm Tesla’s decision to close most of its traditional showrooms and instead sell its vehicles online is a significant moment.

Tesla's showroom in Edinburgh will be spared a cost-cutting cull (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Tesla's showroom in Edinburgh will be spared a cost-cutting cull (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said it was “excruciatingly difficult” to make the Tesla Model 3 for $35,000 (£26,400) and closing its stores was a way to cut costs to the minimum. Apparently, customers will be able to buy a car in a minute from their smartphone – and send it back seven days and 1,000 miles later if they are not happy.

Some might say online shopping for everything is the future – but the point about the future is it’s not the present yet.

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Tesla to switch to online-only sales but Edinburgh showroom expected to remain

How many of today’s potential car-buyers will be willing to spend so much money – likely to be £33,000 in the UK after import duty and tax – without first going for a test drive, particularly if they have concerns about the switch to a significantly different form of transport?

So this could prove to be a setback for the low-carbon revolution.

But, if it turns out to be a success, other car-makers are likely to follow suit – and the test drive could become a thing of the past.