Tesla Motors Inc. has a new lease agreement with a manufacturer that could allow the company to lease more dealers and expand its network of sales agents, according to people familiar with the matter.
The deal, which Tesla officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday, would give the company a bigger footprint than its current fleet of more than 1,000 stores, allowing it to tap into the network of stores and agents to further expand its sales force, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
The two-year agreement could allow Tesla to sell vehicles directly to its dealerships at prices comparable to the current prices that dealers typically charge for comparable models, the people said.
The company’s sales and service team, which includes about 40 employees, has also received a $10 million boost under the agreement, these people said, and it is considering an additional $10 billion in capital.
Tesla has said it will seek to use the lease to expand its retail footprint, including opening a store in each of its cities.
The company said it also has plans to sell its cars directly to the public through the company’s Autopilot software.
The new agreement with GM, the largest U.S. automaker by sales, would help the company retain more of its inventory in its stores and potentially increase sales to consumers who may not normally buy vehicles from the company, the two people said on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.GM has been looking to expand sales and serve customers in its largest markets, but has struggled to keep up with Tesla’s rapid growth.
It has leased about 5,500 stores for about $10.6 billion.
The deals come as the auto industry struggles with a weak labor market, a weak auto-parts market and low sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf.
Tesla, which reported a net loss of $3.4 billion for the first quarter, said it expects to post a profit of about $20 million for the year, and expects the sales loss to be offset by higher costs for its services and sales.
The Tesla and GM leases are expected to be effective from July 1, 2018, according the people familiar.
Tesla is also expected to receive cash payments of about 3 percent of its adjusted earnings for the next six months.
The auto industry has been working on a new auto-lease program that will allow Tesla and its affiliates to lease up to 25,000 vehicles, but the talks broke down in August.
The two sides have been discussing a new program for several months, according and are expected soon to finalize a new deal, said one of the people.