California-based Tesla is debuting what is arguably the most luxurious electric vehicle on the road, at its first showroom in Canada.

The Model S was unveiled Friday at the company's newest storefront in downtown Vancouver.

"It's a very forward looking city, in terms of the environment and technology," said Jerome Guillen, Tesla's Vice President of Sales and Service worldwide.

"We think it's a perfect city to welcome Tesla."

Guillen admits that, with prices for the sedan starting at $80,000, EV technology is still out of the reach of middle class families. He predicts it'll be three or four years before that demographic will be in the market for a Tesla.

Jerome Guillen

Jerome Guillen, VP of Sales and Service for Tesla Worldwide, speaks at the company's newest dealership in downtown Vancouver.

Until recently the provincial government offered cash incentives of up to $5,000 to buyers of clean energy vehicles, including electric cars, much to the dismay of a UBC professor.

"I don't see any reason why the province should be giving $5,000 to someone who can afford an $80,000 car," said Sumeet Gulati, an associate professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Gulati was part of a team of researchers that examined the outcome of the incentive program.

"We found that 75 per cent of the cars that were sold would have been sold anyway, subsidy or not," he said, adding that most of the buyers were affluent and certainly didn't need a subsidy.

According to World Wildlife Fund, there are just over 4,000 electric vehicles on the road in Canada and they represent 0.32 per cent of all new vehicle sales. By comparison, electric vehicles account for about three per cent of all vehicle sales in California, where 33,418 of them are on the road.

With files from the CBC's Richard Zussman