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Tesla reaches 'tipping point' in fleet

Date: 06 October 2016   |   Author: Alisdair Suttie

Tesla says now is the tipping point for fleet sales of its all-electric vehicle range. The Model S has been on sale for more than three years now and this has given fleets the confidence to choose its products, says Davide Ghione, European enterprise sales manager.

"The strength of RVs for our cars has been a huge help in overcoming concerns about EVs with some fleets,' Ghione tells BusinessCar. "Now that our cars have a proven record of reliability and low SMR costs, we're seeing increasing interest. Most of that is from SMEs at present, but this is only because it takes longer to become established with larger fleets due to their validation processes. We also had the confidence to underwrite RVs when the Model S was launched three and a half years ago."

Ghione believes that Tesla's direct approach to fleet customers also helps it build and maintain relationships that larger carmakers do not have. He said: "We don't see our job as just selling a car. It's a much more consultative process as some of what we have to do is educational and we also might have to deal with a wider base of people than only the fleet manager. For instance, we might liaise with a facilities manager to make sure the right charging solution is in place."

However, Ghione adds that Tesla has taken on more staff throughout Europe to work with contract hire and leasing companies to expand sales to fleet. Even so, the unusual Tesla approach means larger fleet customers still deal with only a single person. The feedback for this has been very positive as fleet customers enjoy direct access when ordering a car.

Another quirk of Telsa's way of dealing with fleet is to sell cars at the same price regardless of whether they are a retail or fleet buyer and whether they are buying one car or 600. In justifying this move, Ghione points out that customers don't simply receive a car and then have it for the duration of the deal, but that regular software updates mean their car is always as good as a brand new one.

Ghione commented: "This sort of technical update is not uncommon with mobile phones, so why not with the car? We don't do it every day but wait till there is a package of software updates that can be downloaded by the customer in a bundle.

"This means our cars don't date in the same way as other rivals. Due to this, we are also seeing fleet customers looking at longer contracts with Tesla because the car remains up to date. Add in the lower SMR costs thanks to far fewer moving parts with an EV."