Tesla Motors is opening a regional sales and service center in London, the first of three European stores that the electric vehicle manufacturer plans to launch this year.

The London facility will open this spring at 49-51 Cheval Place, formerly the Segrave Supercar Club. The showroom is in the popular Knightsbridge district, walking distance from Harrods department store and convenient to Heathrow Airport.

Tesla is scouting sites in Munich and Monaco. Tesla will begin delivering cars to European customers in late June. These cars will comply with all EU safety, environmental and durability regulations.

"We expect that Tesla sales will eventually be split evenly between the US and Europe," said Tesla CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk. "Opening three Tesla stores in Europe this year is a critical part of that plan."

Greater London is a key customer market and premier showcase for Tesla - not only for the Roadster sports car but the Model S sedan, which Tesla expects to produce in 2011. The Model S, which will be among the world's first mass-produced, highway-capable EVs, will carry five adults and two children up to 480 kilometers per charge.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, a fan of the Roadster, said Wednesday he hoped to introduce 100,000 EVs and to build 25,000 charging stations in the capital. Prime Minister Gordon Brown - also familiar with Tesla - said EVs would be one cornerstone of his economic recovery plan.

Teslas qualify for a $7,500 US federal tax credit and enjoy incentives in several European countries and cities, including waivers of luxury tax, reductions in VAT, free parking and free charging. In London, Teslas are exempt from the congestion charge, a saving of up to £2,000 per year for commuters.

Tesla's first showrooms opened last summer in Los Angeles and Menlo Park, Calif. Tesla will open another store this spring in Chicago. Tesla is finalizing site selection in Manhattan, Miami and Seattle and is scouting sites in Washington, D.C.

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