The world’s premiere electric car company is set to make its first footprint in Rhode Island, right here in Warwick, following the approval of Tesla’s application for used car and Sunday sales licenses by the Board of Public Safety last Monday.
According to K. Joseph Shekarchi, who represented Tesla during the process, the company plans to open the showroom and sales store early in 2019 and will be re-purposing the 12,500 square-foot building within the Warwick Commons plaza that used to be home to the Filene’s Basement outlet, across Route 2 from the Warwick Mall, which is currently occupied on a temporary basis by Spirit Halloween.
“It will be the first and only in Rhode Island,” Shekarchi said.
The news comes after a couple months of uncertainty regarding a possible Warwick spot for the Palo Alto company that has become synonymous with innovation and whose CEO, Elon Musk, has become ubiquitous in tech circles and beyond for his future-forward (if not lofty) ideas involving everything from privatized space exploration to solving traffic problems through subterranean tunnels – and even flamethrowers.
Originally, Tesla was interested in a spot at 870 Bald Hill Road where a former Hyundai dealership once operated. However, Shekarchi said that the property owner and Tesla were unable to reach an agreement for purchasing or leasing the site, and the deal fell through. That’s where Shekarchi said Mayor Joseph Solomon stepped in.
“Mayor Solomon intervened and made a compelling case to Tesla, and Tesla stayed in Warwick,” he said.
Tesla is unique among car manufacturers as it sells cars directly to its customers, rather than the traditional model of selling to dealerships who then sell the cars.
Requests for comment from Tesla’s corporate office and from Mayor Solomon’s office were not answered by press time.