Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

At Mall of Today, a Car of the Future

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

At Mall of Today, a Car of the Future

Article excerpt

One of the most unusual features of the Mall at University Town Center has to be the Tesla Motors showroom.

I had a chance to experience the showroom and drive one of the all-electric cars Wednesday.

I climbed into the driver's seat of a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S car and took it for a cruise around Sarasota.

And let me tell you, this ain't your grandma's Prius.

The Model S is the fastest full-sized sedan on the streets right now, capable of going zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, the company says. The four-door has zero emissions and a full charge allows you to travel up to 275 miles.

It felt like driving the car of the future.

The California-based company, which sells three varieties of one model of the electric car, was founded in 2003 by a group of Silicon Valley engineers and is now led by billionaire Elon Musk, also known for PayPal and SpaceX.

Tesla has more than 140 showrooms worldwide. Forty are retail sites in plazas with high foot traffic, said Tesla spokesman Alexis Georgeson.

The company has retail showrooms in Tampa, West Palm Beach and Miami, and service centers across the state, including in Tampa and Orlando and one coming soon to Jacksonville.

"Central Florida has been a very strong market for us," Georgeson said. "Florida in general is a car-loving state. We want to educate people here about electric cars, so when they're ready to buy their next vehicle, they may remember Tesla."

The gallery

The 3,000-square-foot showroom inside the Mall at University Town Center is on the lower level near Saks Fifth Avenue and across the aisle from Victoria's Secret.

Behind the glass doors are two shiny and sleek Tesla Model S's. Along the walls are the company's two design centers, where shoppers can build their own car on touchscreens and order a Tesla online.

Shoppers will be able to learn more about Tesla's cars through visuals, including samples of interior leather and car exterior paint that allow consumers to see and feel every possible combination of interior and exterior look. …

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