As Tesla Motors's new vice president of design and store development, George Blankenship is tasked with putting up new auto dealerships. Tesla is banking on Blankenship's experience as a retail executive with Microsoft, Apple and Gap Inc. to expand the carmaker's market footprint worldwide.
The electric carmaker, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., said that the 57-year-old Blankenship will be responsible for helping expand its dealership network and sharpen its retail strategy. Initially, Blankenship will supervise the opening of Tesla dealerships in Tokyo, Toronto and Washington, D.C.
As vice president of real estate at Apple, Blankenship is known for developing the retail look and customer-service protocol of numerous factory-owned computer stores.
Tesla is aiming for a similar strategy of factory-owned retail outlets. To date, its product line has been limited to electric-powered sports cars that sell for over $100,000.
Tesla currently has eight stores around the country. Lately, the company has been busy trying to raise funds to widen its lineup to include a family sedan, the Model S, which is priced under $40,000.
In June, Tesla raised $226 million through a public stock offering to support its expansion. At Gap Inc., Blankenship had served as vice president for real estate strategy where he managed the creation of 250 retail stores yearly throughout the globe.