Electric vehicle (EV) giant Tesla has opened its inaugural South American store, debuting its sleek EV lineup at an upscale mall in Santiago, Chile. The move comes as Tesla grapples with a deceleration in global EV demand and intensified competition from Chinese counterparts. While the American automaker already has retail outlets in Mexico, this marks its first foray into the South American market, according to information available on its website.
Chile has set an ambitious target to exclusively sell electric vehicles by 2035. However, the adoption of EVs in Latin America remains modest, primarily due to consumer concerns about high prices and the limited availability of charging infrastructure.
Tesla, led by billionaire Elon Musk, hosted a launch event at the new Santiago store on Thursday, drawing enthusiasts of the high-end automaker known for its autopilot features. Attendees had the opportunity to explore Tesla's electric vehicles, including the Model Y and Model 3.
During the event, Tesla staff provided insights into various features, such as the unique air conditioning system. The red, white, and black Model Y and Model 3 vehicles on display garnered positive reactions from attendees, emphasizing the appeal of Tesla's cars in the region.
Tesla's entry into South America began to unfold in September when the company registered its business in Chile. The registration outlined the scope of activities, including the import, export, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and sale of vehicles, particularly electric vehicles. Other commercial activities mentioned in the registration encompassed the generation and supply of energy and electricity.
Despite being home to one of the world's largest reserves of lithium, a crucial component for EV batteries, Tesla has not provided detailed plans for its operations in Chile.
Elon Musk recently cautioned about a potential slowdown in sales growth for Tesla in the current year, attributing it to a broader softening demand in the industry and heightened competition from Chinese EV manufacturers, notably BYD.