Tesla backtracks on store closings, price hikes

Tesla said it’s backtracking on plans to close most of its stores and hike prices for its costlier car models.

The electric automaker revealed late Sunday that it has decided to close about half as many stores as it had targeted and “keep significantly more stores open than previously announced.”

Chief Executive Elon Musk said late last month that Tesla would close most of its retail locations as it transitions to an online-only ordering platform, slashing a large portion of its sales staff in the process.

The store closings, however, may be tougher to complete than Musk anticipated.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that landlords weren’t showing any signs of giving Tesla an easy way out of its leases. Only a month ago, Tesla signed a new lease at Santa Monica Place in California that extends through 2025.

Tesla said on Sunday it has “been closely evaluating every single” retail location. It will reopen a number of stores in “high visibility locations” with smaller staffs, and will monitor 20 percent of its stores over the next few months to determine if they will be shuttered.

The about-face means that the automaker will need to rein in some of the price cuts it doled out last month — such as an $18,000 drop for the “Ludicrous” editions of the Model S and Model X.

While the Model 3 will keep its recently discounted price of $35,000, the price of all Model S and Model X Teslas will rise 3 percent worldwide, Tesla said.

Buyers will have a week to make their purchases before the higher prices go into effect on March 18, according to the automaker.

Tesla shares rose 2.4 percent to $290.92 on Monday.

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