Electric car maker Tesla Motors has opened a new assembly plant in Tilburg, in the Netherlands, to supply its 12 European markets initially with the Model S, the company’s £60,000-plus all-electric saloon, and potentially with its upcoming Model X SUV.
Tesla’s co-founder, Elon Musk, a high-profile advocate of electric cars, was on hand for the opening. He says the new facility, which is slated to assemble 90 cars per day, will utilise car components imported from Tesla’s parent factory in Fremont, California. The move should speed up deliveries of the Model S, a rival in size and function for the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, to its 69 European dealers.
Tesla claims Tilburg is the first European factory to incorporate an indoor test track for production cars. The 750-metre track consists of 400m of smooth asphalt, plus a section pock-marked with 6000 'dots' that simulate bumps in the road. Every car is driven on the track to check handling and detect squeaks and rattles.
The company is within days of revealing the new Model X, closely related in size and price to the Model S. In addition, in 2017 it plans to launch the smaller, cheaper, BMW 3 Series-rivalling Model 3 saloon, which is likely to boost Tesla sales volume towards 200,000 cars a year. Tesla has already sold more than 80,000 examples of the Model S across the world.
Musk says the new Tilburg factory is Tesla’s latest demonstration of its commitment to European markets. It has now established more than 1000 Supercharger points stretching from Norway to Slovenia, and from the UK to Spain. It is also encouraging restaurants, hotels and shopping centres to install what it calls 'destination chargers' for Tesla vehicles.