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Tesla hopes Apple stores' allure translates to electric cars

Tesla hopes Apple stores' allure translates to electric cars

They have seduced Apple customers for years with their clean lines, cool colors and sexed-up simplicity.
Now the Apple Store will be coming soon to a Tesla Store near you.
Tesla Motors' announcement that it had hired Apple's former retailing guru George Blankenship to work his magic for them means Tesla buyers could be in for the same marketplace mojo that has kept Apple fans coming back for more.
And all it took for Tesla CEO Elon Musk to lure Blankenship was a set of car keys.
"I realized immediately that Elon has assembled some of the brightest people in the world to do something good for the world," said Blankenship, 57. "Then after meeting with some of the designers, they gave me a key to a red Roadster and said 'Go!' I jumped onto the 405 (highway), and I fell in love."
That roll down the Los Angeles freeway two months ago was Blankenship's first taste of Tesla's flagship sports car. It was also a deal-clincher, he said this week. "I knew right then that I had to be a part of this game-changing venture."
As vice president of design and store development, Blankenship is expected to build Tesla's retail strategy and network, borrowing from the cool salesroom esthetic he installed for Gap Inc. and that earned Apple accolades by Fortune Magazine as America's Best Retailer. Tesla has 13 company-owned stores worldwide with plans to open five more this year. As the company prepares to launch its Model S sedan in 2012, Blankenship eventually will lead an ambitious expansion to 50 showrooms worldwide.
"George has a record of building customer-focused stores that revolutionize their industries, and he does it on time and on budget. There is simply no one better," Musk said in a statement. "With George's leadership, I have no doubt Tesla will have the best retail experience in the auto industry as we continue to grow and prepare to launch the Model S."
Blankenship, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and has two daughters and a one-year-old grandchild, said his work for Tesla will mirror what he did with the Apple Stores: set up a clean and comfortable venue; put cutting-edge and sometimes exotic products into customer's hands; then use an evangelical sales staff to not only teach users about the merchandise inside and out, but to give them a dose of religion.
"The Apple stores worked," he said, "because we were able to explain to customers why these products would change the world. Fast-forward to Tesla, where you have proven game-changing technology that hardly anyone knows about. We need to get people in front of these cars and tell them the Tesla story."