Tesla’s coming to town

When Tesla did its cross-country road trip in December 2009 to prove its all-electric sports cars could go the distance, they decided to skip the refining capital of America.

We were a bit annoyed then because they hit San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, but now the luxury carmaker is giving Houston some love. A spokeswoman for the firm confirms a dealership is coming to Houston’s Galleria in the next few months.

Houstonian Rakesh Agrawal was the first to tip us off to the pending plans over the weekend when he tweeted from his tour of the Tesla factory.

Another Houstonian, Brian Ng, also posted on Twitter that he saw signs for the store in the Nordstrom wing of the Galleria.

A dealership in a mall? It’s not as strange as one might think.

Because of the high-end nature of the cars, Tesla’s showrooms aren’t like other car dealerships, with a large parking lot chock full of vehicles.

They’re more like expensive retail stores or art galleries with just a few cars on hand and a “design studio” where customers can select a custom-ordered car. The folks in charge of Tesla’s retail strategy have backgrounds in the Apple stores and The Gap.

The company owns and operates all of its stores itself, and everyone who works in the stores is an employee of Tesla, not of a franchise.

While the original Roaster is around $100,000, Tesla recently launched its new Model S which starts at around $57,000 before tax incentives. So buyers who have the money for a high-end, gasoline-free toy for highway driving will have several options.

And the City of Houston should be ready, with dozens of new electric-vehicle charging stations planned throughout the metro area in the coming year.

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