Company boss says Europe has more sales potential than the US

Electric car pioneer Tesla has opened its first European dealership, with company owner Elon Musk saying that Europe “had the potential to become a huge market for Tesla, bigger even than the US.”

The opening of the London Tesla Store, a former Mercedes Benz and Maybach showroom in Kensingston’s Cheval Place, will be followed by similar openings in Monaco and Munich within a month.

On the night, Musk took the wraps off Tesla Roadster Sport, a performance-oriented version of the Roadster which thus far has not been seen in the UK, and that’s two tenths of a second faster to 60mph than the normal car. He also announced that right-hand drive Roadsters would be available from early 2010.

Musk also confirmed that, after a $500 million loan from the US government and a cash injection from new stakeholders Daimler, Tesla’s development of the Model S electric saloon was back on track for launch in late 2011.

“We already have running prototypes of the car, and have the improved liquid-cooled motor, the new power control module and the higher density battery pack we need working in the lab,” he said.

“Our challenge with this car is to hit our cost target (the car is intended to come to market for less than $50,000), and to engineer it effectively for the much higher volumes. Crash testing is also a big challenge for us; I want this car to be one of the safest family four-doors on the road.”

Musk also confirmed that, in return for Daimler’s investment, Tesla was doing the development work on the lithium ion batteries for the next-generation Smart ED, due in 2010.

Daimler hopes to have the battery-powered city car in series production by 2012.

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