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Tesla Says Europe, Asia Sales to Top North America in 2014

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March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc., which plans to build the world’s largest battery factory, said it will open more than 30 new service centers and stores in Europe as it anticipates a jump in sales in that region and Asia.

Tesla expects combined sales this year in Europe and Asia of almost twice those in North America, according to a statement today from the Geneva auto show. The electric-car maker said it will introduce right-hand-drive versions of its Model S sedan in the U.K. and offer leasing and financing programs in Europe.

“Growing international sales is a crucial part of the plan for the Tesla, but it won’t be easy,” said Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis for consultant AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, California. “Both in China and Europe, many potential customers may not have access to charging infrastructure that’s as good as here in North America.”

The automaker, led by Elon Musk, has forecast a more than 55 percent jump in global sales this year and announced plans to spend as much as $5 billion to build a so-called gigafactory in the U.S. The facility would let Tesla create cheaper versions of its cars, potentially doubling its worldwide market share to about 1 percent, said Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley analyst.

Last year, Tesla delivered almost 22,500 battery-powered vehicles. The Model S has a U.S. starting price of $71,000.

Tesla’s cars are available in European nations such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, according to the Palo Alto, California-based carmaker’s website. Musk, the company’s co-founder and biggest shareholder, had previously discussed plans to enter China. He said in a January interview that he would travel there in late March to promote the brand.

Tesla rose 1.7 percent to $254.84 at the close in New York. The shares have surged more than sevenfold in the past 12 months.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cecile Daurat at cdaurat@bloomberg.net

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