American electric car brand Tesla opened its first test drive centre in Hong Kong today, located at Sai Ying Pun.
It serves as an ongoing form of experiential marketing for the brand.
Isabel Fan, Hong Kong country director at Tesla Motors, said, "The Tesla test drive experience can help accelerate our business development in Hong Kong."
In a few weeks' time, the brand will also launch its third charging station in the city at Cyberport, targeting drivers in the Southern District. This is in addition to a charging station at Hopewell Centre in Wanchai and another at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in East Kowloon.
Although these charging stations allow the brand's customers to charge their cars for free, chargers are not ubiquitous in the city and the local market for electric car is nowhere near mature.
For Fan, this is exactly where the potential for growth comes from.
"The electric car market has grown gradually until it has now reached the point where it is really beginning to grow fast," she said.
Next year, the brand plans to work with property developers and other organisations to build destination chargers to landmarks such as at shopping malls, hotels and restaurants.
The focus of the brand's marketing strategy has been on partnership marketing.
"We don't do much paid advertising because it's not necessary," Fan said.
Instead, the brand works with partners, such as car owner, country and private members' clubs as well as property developers to run events that include test-driving experiences, which in turn bring word-of-mouth and referrals for the brand.
With the opening of the test drive centre, the brand will begin to organise ad hoc events where prospective customers can come and try out its cars.
The exclusivity of its past events is consistent with the fact that from 2010 to 2012, the brand's main product in Hong Kong is a limited edition car manufactured in batches.
Its first mass-market car Model S was launched in 2012 in the US and only delivered to Hong Kong drivers with a special license because it was a left hand drive cars.
In July, the right hand drive version of the model was made available to Hong Kong drivers. The new test drive centre and upcoming Cyberport charging station can be seen as the next step towards marketing the brand on a larger scale.
Outside of Hong Kong, the brand operates in China, Japan and Australia.
Here is a sneak preview of the test drive centre:
The Design Studio, available online and on this in-store touch screen, allows customers to customise the look of a virtual 3D car. In the test drive centre, customers can touch and see the real colours of samples of the materials, adding an extra dimension to the brand's experiential marketing strategy.
In the customer journey towards purchase, the prospective customer can juxtapose a chosen block of coloured leather, for example, against a material that would make up the exterior of the car
An installation showcasing what the car looks like inside.