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Tesla set to open UTC dealership by end of April

Tesla preparing to open its new Sarasota store at University Town Center.
Tesla preparing to open its new Sarasota store at University Town Center.
Photo by Mark Gordon
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Tesla could open its new store in Sarasota as early as the end of April.

The electric car manufacturer has built a two-story, 55,000-square-foot dealership at University Town Center in the mall’s eastern district, facing the Macy’s and backing up to Interstate 75. 

Earlier this week, crews were putting the finishing touches on the dealership, working mostly inside. Outside, it looked ready to go with the signage up, the exterior complete and the parking lot empty but for a few work trucks.

Tesla management said the plan is for the store to open before month’s end but wouldn’t give a firm date, citing the nature of construction projects and the potential for delays.

When it does open, the dealership will have a showroom, service center and employ about 50 people. An existing showroom in the mall’s lower level and a service center at 5231 McIntosh Road will close.

The new location will also allow Tesla to deliver sold vehicles on site rather than sending customers to Tampa or Fort Myers to pick up their cars, management said.

While Tesla hasn’t officially said why it chose UTC as the site for its newest dealership, its proximity to Lakewood Ranch, the mall’s popularity and access to I-75 are likely factors. The UTC area, on the border with Manatee County, has been rapidly adding retailers from various sectors, including a new Trader Joe's on the Manatee side last year. 

Tesla, meanwhile, has several other sales and services centers in the area, including in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Naples.

Tesla, long the darling of electric car buyers, has seen business slowing down in recent months.

On April 2, the company reported it delivered 386,810 vehicles in the first quarter of this year, down 8.5% from last year.

The company, in a note to investors, said the “decline in volumes was partially due to the early phase of the production ramp of the updated Model 3 at our Fremont factory and factory shutdowns resulting from shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict and an arson attack at Gigafactory Berlin.”

This article originally appeared on sister site



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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