American electric car giant Tesla delivered its first Model S cars to eight New Zealand customers in Auckland tonight, and launched its first ultra-fast Supercharger point in what will become a nation-wide charging network.
The company co-founded by Elon Musk also announced it will open the first New Zealand retail store and service centre in Karangahape Rd later this year.
The first Supercharger point is in Hamilton, and is capable of recharging a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S, with a range of more than 600km, in half an hour.
The eight cars handed over were among the first to be ordered when the Californian-based company began taking online orders in New Zealand late last year.
The model S sports sedan was the world's best-selling plug-in electric car in 2015 and 2016, and sells here for between $117,000 to almost $300,000 depending on specifications.
"Tesla is working to continually grow its presence in New Zealand, working towards its mission to advance the world's transition to sustainable energy," the company said in a statement tonight.
The Supercharger Network's first charging station was commissioned in Hamilton today, and further charging points were planned before the end of the year in Turangi and Sanson.
Further Supercharger stations would be opened in Auckland and in the South Island in the future.
More than 100 "Destination Chargers" were also planned for across New Zealand, allowing for single- or three-phase charging at locations including resorts, hotels, shopping centres and public parking complexes.
"Tesla will also be taking orders for Tesla Powerwall 2 and Tesla Powerpack 2, the battery storage products for both residential and commercial customers.
Powerwall customers will be able to order these online, where Tesla will work with certified installers to assist in increasing their energy independence, using more of their own solar energy and providing backup."
Heath Walker, the senior marketing and communications manager for Australia and New Zealand for Tesla Inc, said there would be two models available through the Tesla NZ website, the Model S and the Model X SUV that will cost from $151,000 plus ORC.
Tesla was pleased to be in the New Zealand market, where there was an abundance of sustainable electricity available, and where the Government was encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles.
He said there had been a large number of Tesla "pioneers" who had imported vehicles privately, but those handed over last night were the first ordered through the company which would control its entire sales and service chain.
The first physical Tesla "store" and service centre would open at 501 Karangahape Rd in Auckland around the middle of this year.
The Model S sport sedan was an evolution in automotive engineering.
"Combining performance, safety, and efficiency, it has reset the world's expectations for the car of the 21st century with the highest possible safety ratings, the longest range of any electric vehicle, and over-the-air software updates that continuously make it better."
With two motors, one in the front and one in the rear, the Model S digitally and independently controls torque to the front and rear wheels, giving good traction in all weather conditions.
Tesla says the Model S has a 0-100km/h time of just 2.6 seconds, making it the quickest production car available.
Inside the car, the dashboard is dominated by a 17-inch digital tough screen, on which drive settings can be adjusted to suit the driver. It also houses audio and navigation controls, including Google Maps.