Just a few days ago Tesla got a new lease on life with a $465 million U.S. government loan to build the infrastructure it needs for the mass-production of the Model S luxury-electric sedan. Today, however, the company is focusing on growing its brand overseas with the grand opening of its first European flagship store in London.

Located in the heart of the Knightsbridge district and close the Heathrow Airport, the new Tesla dealership will be the central hub for its nascent European network. Regional sales and service centers in Monaco, Munich and Zurich will pick up demand on the Continent, with all retail outlets providing test-drives to prospective customers.

The main draw of the Tesla Roadster in Europe is not just the performance it offers, but the fact that that performance comes with a huge savings in congestion charging and emissions taxes. Londoners can expect to save up to £2,000 ($3,200) annually with a Tesla compared to a typical sports car or SUV.

So far, however, no right-hand drive vehicles are available for retail. In fact, buyers will have to wait until the first quarter of 2010 to see on of the first RHD models. Those units will be a limited run of 250 cars bearing a Signature Edition Roadster nameplate and priced from £94,000 ($155,000).

Tesla says it has already taken 1,300 orders across Europe. “Thanks to an abundance of discriminating drivers and progressive public policy, Tesla is already well known in Europe,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “We expect the London store to dramatically increase our brand identity throughout the continent, and with right hand drive models now due at the beginning of next year, the UK market will provide a solid foundation on which to build this.”