Tesla Model 3 takes European tour – but not to Britain

Elisabeth Behrmann

Tesla Inc., kicking off a roving campaign across Europe to show off the Model 3, is keeping U.K. buyers waiting, for now at least.

Starting earlier this month in Paris, Barcelona and other cities, the carmaker is putting the model on display at urban locations for a 32-city tour that leaves out the U.K., where vehicles drive on the left and require a steering wheel on the right. Until now, interested buyers across the Atlantic could only catch a glimpse at select auto shows. Left-hand-drive car deliveries outside the U.K. are scheduled to start in the first half of next year.

Posts proliferated on social media from around the continent of Tesla fans lining up to see the car. Potential buyers could only slide behind the wheel, examine the 15-inch touchscreen display and look under the hood. Test drives aren’t part of the beauty parade, even after reservations opened in March 2016 at 1,000 euros ($1,141).

The European tour signaled the Model 3’s arrival in Europe, and more markets and stores will be added in the coming weeks, a Tesla spokesman said. Production of models with the steering wheel on the right for markets like the U.K., Japan and Australia are due to start next year, according to the carmaker’s website. The company already sells right-hand-drive Models S and Model X in the U.K.

The Model 3, which has become a best-seller in the U.S., will compete with the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Volkswagen’s Golf. After the carmaker went through “production hell” to boost output to mass-market levels, the manufacturer has faced “delivery logistics hell” getting cars to customers, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has said. In the U.S., Tesla has apparently bought trucking companies to help with deliveries.