Tesla, while a very nice and valuable company, is no Apple. Actually, Apple’s spare cash pile alone is big enough to buy Tesla several times over. But Elon Musk isn’t the kind of person to get wowed by bigger companies, and in a recent interview, Elon Musk made a big claim about how Telsa’s retail stores stack up to Apple.
According to Electrek, Musk said during an interview “I think our sales per square foot are so high, you need a telescope to see who’s in second place. It’s like stupidly high.” Tesla’s VP of Global Sales added that “Our sales per square foot are so high, it actually moves the industry average.”
That’s an implicit dig at Apple, which has long dominated the “sales per square foot” metric. Apple’s unique store design has been described as the perfect way to sell low-volume, high-margin products, but it seems that Tesla is technically doing better.
Of course, there’s all sorts of reasons why this isn’t really a fair fight. Tesla’s stores are typically smaller, and there are about five times fewer Tesla stores in the US than Apple stores.
Tesla can get away with the low number of stores, compared to Apple, because convenience isn’t such a big factor in buying a $90,000 car. You’re probably not willing to drive two or four hours just to go get a phone, but it’s a far more reasonable thing to do for a car.
Rather than the comparison to Apple, though, a Tesla comparison to conventional car dealerships is more interesting. Tesla’s refusal to follow the normal dealership model for car sales has long been a curiosity, and has even landed it in legal trouble before. But based on the numbers Tesla is touting, it seems that a direct retail channel can work exceedingly well for cars.