ELECTRIC car enthusiasts have hailed the arrival of US luxury brand Tesla as the manufacturer famous for its cutting edge zero emissions vehicles opened its first Scottish showroom in Edinburgh today.

The California-based giant unveiled its latest store at the exclusive Multrees Walk shopping complex in St Andrews Square, home to designer stores including Harvey Nichols and Louis Vuitton.

It already has 12 UK outlets, but this is Tesla's first venture north of the Border, where it hopes to lure high-spending motorists with its latest 100 per cent electric model, the Model S, which retails from £56,200 - although buyers can shave £5000 of the price tag with a government grant and, in Scotland, get full government funding for the installation of a charge-point in their driveway or garage.

HeraldScotland: Herald motoring journalist Stephen Park test drives the new Model S in EdinburghHerald motoring journalist Stephen Park test drives the new Model S in Edinburgh

According to Tesla - whose previous Roadster model was the world's first all-electric sportscar - the seven-seater Model S boasts an "unprecedented range" of 330 miles on a single charge and rapid acceleration of 0-60mph in as little as 2.8 seconds.

Read the Herald's review of the Model S test drive 

Edinburgh Airport already has one of only a handful of Tesla super-chargers in Scotland, which can replenish half the battery within 20 minutes.

Doug Robertson, chair of the Electric Vehicles Association Scotland, said it was a "fantastic opportunity".

The company's arrival also comes at a time of surging demand for alternative fuel vehicles, with sales across the UK up 41 per cent in 2015. However, AFVs - which include hybrids - still account for just 2.7 per cent of total new car sales.

Mr Robertson, a retired engineer who drives a Nissan Leaf, said education was key.

He said: "Everyone should be driving [an electric car] and the problem is to make people aware of how good they are. The business of 'range anxiety' is not something that they should be concerned about because the public charging infrastructure in the last year has come on leaps and bounds and it's now possible to travel virtually anywhere in Scotland in one.

"I did a 1000-mile trip down the Mull of Kintyre with my son and my grandson camping last July.

"Obviously if you're doing a lot of very long trips, say 250 miles a day for work, then it might not be a sensible option for you, but the vast majority of journeys are short and local.

"The fact that people perceive them as expensive is another obstacle. I'm a pensioner so I wouldn't be driving an electric vehicle if it cost me more than a petrol or a diesel car and I can assure you it doesn't."

HeraldScotland: Tesla CEO Ellon Musk with the new Model STesla CEO Ellon Musk with the new Model S

Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said Tesla were a "welcome entrant" to the new car market in Scotland.

He added: "I believe the car drives superbly. I've spoken to someone who's ordered one and they say the car is quite something to drive.

"Tesla are leading the way in making electric vehicles more practical - living in the very deep south-west of Scotland and working in Edinburgh I could actually get home with one of them now.

"There is no doubt that the whole electric vehicle ownership is going to develop. I have my doubts about the pace of it, but that's a different argument for a different day."

A spokeswoman for Tesla said: "Tesla’s first Scottish store on Multrees walk is a great opportunity for the local community to experience Model S and learn more about Tesla’s ground breaking technology and mission to accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation. We’re excited to be part of the drive for a greener Scotland."