What are your ambitions in Europe?
Our overall goal is to accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation. We obviously want to be present in Europe. There are many different countries and rules to comply with, so we are putting in place the right infrastructure in every country to help with our growth. We are happy with the status quo of some countries where we are present, especially in Norway. In other countries we still have some things to put into place. This includes dealerships, service centers, superchargers to enable long-distance driving and also the right partnerships for financial products and insurance.
Which European countries are leaders in creating an EV infrastructure and which ones still have work to do?
We are a small company so we haven’t had a chance to develop a presence in all countries in the same way. We gave preference [to countries] where we already had the most demand. Norway was a good starting point. The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden are also countries where we’re doing extremely well. We already have the infrastructure in place in those countries thanks to our superchargers. In some markets we are putting the infrastructure in place so that people can try the car and then adopt it.
How crucial is a test drive to convincing a potential customer that your models are as viable as car with an internal combustion engine?
That’s the key factor. We can describe what it is like to have an electric car, but at the end of the day the best way is to really experience it for yourself. You need to see how smooth it is to drive, how quiet it is and how there is really no trouble with charging or range. People are nervous about it, which I understand, but there is no reason for it.
How important is the availability of public charging stations to the growth of EVs in Europe?
I think that 98 percent of all charging is done at home so we need to realize that people tend to drive or to travel near their homes. The beauty of electric vehicles is that you charge them at night, so that when you get up you’re electric vehicle is already charged. It’s much better than a gasoline-powered car in this respect. For those long-distance trips, there are many parking areas in countries in Europe where there are charging stations. Additionally, to further facilitate long-distance driving, Tesla is developing a network of superchargers, which are faster than anything else out there. We’ve built about 70 of those stations around Europe. They let you charge [enough to travel] 300km in 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how full the battery is when you start charging. But while you do not need the supercharger to travel long distances, it just makes it that much easier.