Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles gained a little more glitz this week when electric sports-car startup Tesla Motors opened its first store there.

The much-anticipated, media-filled grand opening featured the $109,000 Tesla Roadster, which debuted in February and entered “regular production” in March (see First Tesla Production Roadster Arrives and Tesla Begins ‘Regular Production’ of Roadsters).

The company said it plans to follow its flagship store, the Tesla Store Los Angeles, with a second store in San Carlos, Calif., in a couple of months, as well as with stores in Chicago, New York and other cities early next year.

The store cost about $2 million to build, according to Autoweek, which also reported that Tesla has built only four production Roadsters so far, but hopes to have 300 by the end of this year.

For months, Tesla has been sold out of the 600 cars it planned to produce this year, which it expects to deliver by March of next year. It also has a waiting list of 400 for the 2009 model, the car blog reported.

As though it didn’t have enough demand, the company earlier this month launched European sales and said it would deliver Roadsters to Europe in the spring of 2009

The new store, which the company said is based on Apple stores, will help make electric cars real for average consumers, said Thilo Koslowski, lead automotive analyst with Gartner.

“It’s an important symbolic gesture to actually have that dealership open in Los Angeles now and to have other dealerships open in the next few months, because it makes the whole thing more real,” Koslowski said. “It’s not going to have a lot of cars, because the cars are already spoken for, but the symbolic meaning is this is a real car company. The message to other car companies is, ‘Get your act together because this is a real thing.’”

But it’s just the beginning, he added. Now the company has to deliver cars.

“The only negative about this is the company certainly now has to have enough vehicles available,” Koslowski said. “The downside of opening of dealerships is if they are only places where people can see posters and maybe one vehicle, I’m not sure that will be worth it. The company will be on the hook now of delivering the vehicles that they talked about.”

While Tesla’s dealerships probably will never be like a typical General Motors Corp. dealership, for example, made up of huge lots with hundreds of vehicles, the company will need a few cars at each location so potential customers can take test drives, he said. “I’m not sure it ever will be a place where you can just go and pick up the car,” he said.

At the same time, it might not make sense to have showrooms as exclusive as, say, Lamborghini’s or Bugatti’s.

“I’m not sure the company wants to be that exclusive,” Koslowski said. “It is coming out with a sedan that is more mainstream, so it will be important for Tesla to leverage the right mix of exclusivity to leverage excitement from consumers, with the ability to go mainstream, because that’s what it will take to keep the company healthy and successful.”

Another critical factor will be the ability for Tesla to maintain and service its cars at these dealerships, Koslowski said.

While it’s not an issue now, when the company has so few cars on the road, it will become important, he said.

“It’s critical for consumers to see this as something that is reliable, not just an exotic car with a great green approach, but something that they can use on a daily basis and, if something goes wrong, that they can bring to the dealership and drop off to get fixed,” he said. “The next logical step will be to offer a service center. That makes the whole thing more reliable and realistic for a lot of customers. And that’s critical if they want to expand.”