Tesla plugging into London as it takes over former Porsche dealership

Tesla owners in London will no longer face drives to Kitchener for service as the electric-vehicle maker prepares to open a station in London’s west end.

The darling car of the green movement has bought a former Porsche dealership on Oxford Street West, near Wonderland Road, and will convert it to a Tesla service centre, said Darryn John, founder of the publication Drive Tesla Canada.

London is part of an aggressive expansion plan for the California-based automaker that is seeing it open more dealerships amid growing sales.

“They’re expanding in Canada now. Tesla is a big name and an expansion into your market is good, it’s significant for the community,” John said.

Tesla is opening about six service centres in Canada over the next six months, he added.

There is no firm timeline as to when the London service centre will open, but Tesla has opened stations in other cities in just a few months after acquiring the property, John said.

While the move is being driven by sales growth, it’s also now a challenge under COVID-19 lockdown for owners to travel to have their vehicles serviced in other communities. In some cases, such as Manitoba and Nova Scotia, owners must now travel out of the province to get vehicle work done.

Tesla bought the 1.5-acre site at 600 Oxford St. and there are two buildings on the property – a 12,678-square-foot main building with a large service area, as well as a 4,180-square-foot building.

Elana Johnson was among the first Tesla owners in London, buying her first vehicle about eight years ago. With husband Chris Collins, they added a second Tesla about six years ago.

Over the years they have driven to Mississauga, Kitchener and had the Tesla service van visit their home to take care of their vehicles. They’re relieved the work soon will be done in London.

“This is fabulous. It has hardly needed any service but we initially bought the service package and they came here for everything,” Johnson said.

“They have done an excellent job, they have been very responsive but this is reassuring. It’s a good sign technology is being embraced.”

There is also a designated Tesla service technician in Dorchester who was called in to do repairs as well, she added.

Tesla recently opened a service centre in Kitchener, where London vehicles were serviced, added Collins. “It wasn’t bad going to Kitchener but if they’re going to be here, so much the better.”

As for sales growth, Tesla is forecasting global sales in its fourth quarter of 180,000 vehicles. In the third quarter it sold 139,000 and, in the second quarter, 90,000, John said.

“What makes the sales growth so incredible is its factory in California, where they make all their cars for North America, shut down for two months this year” due to Covid-19, John said.

“It’s still seeing huge sales growth quarter-over-quarter.”

Tesla also has a plant in China and others under construction in Europe and the U.S., scheduled to open this year.

“This is great new. I’m really happy,” said Don Millar, president of the London Electric Vehicle Association.

“This will help in the adoption of electric vehicles. This will put pressure on car dealers in London to sell more electric vehicles here.”

While he doesn’t track how many Tesla vehicles have been sold in London, Millar’s group has about 400 members belonging to his Facebook group, he said.

According to figures tracked by city hall and Ontario’s Transportation Ministry, in March 2020 there were 800 electric and hybrid electric vehicles in London, said Millar. The previous total was 500 from 2018, a significant increase of about 300 in 18 months.

“We need this. There are so many people denying the climate emergency. We need immediate action and we’re not getting it,” Millar said.


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