Tesla Hires Apple, Gap Veteran to Revolutionize Car Buying Experience

Blankenship, 57, brings thirty years of international retail and real estate experience to Tesla. Best known as the architect of Apple’s brand building retail strategy that raised the bar for customer experience in retail stores, Blankenship joins Tesla most recently from Microsoft.

As Apple’s Vice President of Real Estate, he created one of the most successful retail growth strategies in history. Apple has repeatedly been recognized by Fortune Magazine as America’s Best Retailer. Blankenship brings that experience to Tesla. Through his work creating Apple stores around the world, Blankenship defined and executed an International "Smart Growth Hit List" that encompassed major cities in Asia, Europe and North America. As Vice President for Real Estate Strategy for Gap, Inc., Blankenship managed the growth of over 250 stores per year worldwide while establishing an energy-efficient, environmentally forward-thinking retail growth process.

"George has a record of building customer-focused stores that revolutionize their industries, and he does it on time and on budget. There is simply no one better, he is the ideal candidate for Tesla," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "With George’s leadership, I have no doubt Tesla will have the best retail experience in the auto industry as we continue to grow and prepare to launch the Model S."

Tesla is revolutionizing the auto purchasing experience. Unlike traditional car dealerships, Tesla stores are designed to be stylish and inviting. Blankenship will build a long-term retail development plan to give customers the opportunity to purchase cars and learn about  Tesla technology. Blankenship’s initial projects will include opening Tesla stores in Tokyo, Japan, Toronto, Canada, and Washington, DC.

"Joining Tesla allows me to work with some of the boldest and brightest people on the planet while changing the world for the better," said Blankenship. "I’m excited to create a retail experience that is as thrilling as my first drive of the Tesla Roadster."

Tesla stores are also the service hub for Tesla Rangers, the mobile service program that provides house-calls for service. The innovative program gives customers peace of mind no matter where they live. Tesla Rangers travel to customer homes or offices for services including annual inspections and firmware upgrades.

Toyota tests electric car with Tesla battery

U.S. electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. will deliver two prototype electric vehicles based on Toyota Motor Corp. cars to the Japanese automaker by the end of this month.

Japanese Automaker Toyota Motor Corp. and U.S. electric carmaker Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA) agreed to work together to develop electric vehicles. The Memorandum of Understanding entails Tesla to deliver two rechargeable prototypes electric cars to Toyota by the end of this month.

The MoU is apart from the earlier announced electric car Toyota plans to sell by 2012. Toyota has said it’s working on a two-passenger "urban commuter" electric car that will likely have range of 50 miles (80 kilometers) or less per charge, reports said. On May 20, the automakers agreed to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts and production system. Toyota took a $50 million stake in Tesla.

The reports informed that the companies are contemplating to base the prototype car on Toyota’s Corolla and other models fitted with Tesla battery packs and motors. Tesla Motors, which recently floated its shares on the Nasdaq, uses thousands of the same type of small lithium-ion battery cells that power laptop computers. As stated in the media reports, "Toyota intends to study that approach to see if it offers advantages over using larger types of battery cells."

Tesla Motors, which sells the Roadster electric sports car, is currently the only automobile producer marketing electric vehicles capable of operating over long distances in North America and Europe. The Palo Alto, California-based company manufactures and sells high-performance fully electric vehicles and advanced electric vehicle powertrain components.

Tesla bought the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc or NUMMI plant to built the Model S sedan and future Tesla vehicles. NUMMI, the vehicle assembler unit owned jointly by Toyota Motor and General Motors Co., was closed down in April, as GM pulled out of the JV for its post-bankruptcy restructuring.

Tesla has already developed a relationship with Daimler AG since March 2008 to apply its technology in a battery pack and charger for Daimler’s Smart fortwo electric drive. Blackstar Investco LLC, an affiliate of Daimler, holds more than 5% of Tesla’s outstanding capital stock.

The president of Toyota Motor Corp., Akio Toyoda, speaking to U.S. reporters on Friday, said the company is testing an electric car prototype with lithium ion batteries from Tesla, the Palo Alto, Calif., startup that went public earlier this month. Toyota struck a partnership with Tesla in May, in which it sold Tesla a factory in California and invested $50 million in the electric car maker.

Toyota’s recent deal with Tesla proved that the automaker was interested in becoming a force in the electric car market. They could blend Tesla’s battery pack technology with their knowledge of mass production and create an electric car to challenge Nissan’s Leaf. Toyota revealed that they are testing a battery pack from Tesla in a new prototype.

One of the reasons Toyota went ahead with the Tesla deal was that they were in dire need of a shakeup. Their massive recalls as well as the buzz surrounding the electric vehicles Leaf and Volt put the once mighty Prius out of the minds of many consumers. Tesla had the technology and a startup mindset that could dig them out of their hole, so they inked a deal less than a month after their two CEOs met in the US.

Unlike a lot of Electric Vehicles lithium ion batteries, Tesla’s is lighter due to its reliance on lithium-ion batteries that are commonly found in laptops. The battery used in their 2011 Roadster packs 6,831 of them into a single unit. In comparison, Toyota’s batteries are made via a partnership with Panasonic and use heavier large-format lithium-ion batteries that weigh down cars unlike Tesla’s 990 lb battery.

According to Toyota’s executive vice president Shinichi Sasaki, the higher number of cells also comes with a higher chance of failure. He said that even though battery failure is a risk they’re still going ahead with Tesla’s technology due to its simplicity.

Tesla’s goal is to produce increasingly affordable electric cars to mainstream buyers – relentlessly driving down the cost of Electric vehicles with lithium ion batteries. Palo Alto, CA-based Tesla has delivered more than 1200 Roadsters to customers in North America, Europe and Asia.

Tesla designs and manufactures Electric Cars and EV powertrain components. It is currently the only automaker in the U.S. that builds and sells highway-capable Electric vehicles in serial production. The Tesla Roadster accelerates faster than most sports cars yet produces no emissions. Tesla Service Rangers make house calls to service Roadsters.