Tesla's slow Model X launch raises questions
John Goreham's picture

Failure to launch- Tesla has delivered 15 Model X vehicles in 3 months

Why has Tesla’s Model X rollout been so ridiculously slow?
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Tesla continues to have its bright points. The vehicles are simply amazing. They are also amazingly expensive. Price didn’t hold back the Model S, though, so why has Tesla only delivered 15 Model X crossover/minivans since its launch three months ago?

We use as our source of Tesla production volume one of the leading EV advocacy publications, Inside EVs. Over the past few years, this publication has done an outstanding job of tracking Tesla’s production numbers as the quarter rolls out. As you probably know, Tesla does not talk to investors, or the media about its monthly production numbers, something every other automaker does. Once firm information is gathered from mandatory SEC filings and other sources (vehicle registrations and sightings) Inside EVs “trues-up” its numbers. The site has been remarkably accurate over time, and we have come to trust its numbers.

Tesla made a lot of noise about the Model X. Reporters, including some here at Torque News, reported pre-orders as if they were actual sales - a long, long time ago. Look at the Google search results for Tesla Model X and you will find dozens of excited EV advocates talking about the fantastic aspects of the vehicle. One headline says you can get a model X “For as little as $80,000.” As little? The vehicle starts at $80K and rises to about $140K when equipped with the stuff that makes it special. About five times the cost of the Toyota Sienna AWD or Honda Pilot Touring.

Very few publications are talking about the kit-car-like launch of the Model X. The best information we could find was at SFGate.com, who reported Elon Musk as saying “We see no fundamental issue on the production ramp. It’s really down to the little things, like the placement of the seal on the door. ... We feel very confident in being able to get to several hundred vehicles a week by the end of the year.” The end of the year is in 18 business days. December looks to be a banner month for the Model X.

If you are a fan of the Model X tell us why you think this slow launch is happening and why it is another example of a solid company showing the big automakers who’s boss.


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Comments

Silly article. Shouldn't the title be "Failure to ship"? Your source (Inside EV) said this, "In November, the sightings/confirmations again were rare, and we estimate five were delivered during the month." People pre-order Tesla vehicles--that is as close as you're going to get on sales numbers vs delivery numbers. According to Gas2, there are 19,953 reservations--as of last September. Please keep sales numbers separate from delivery numbers.
Donald is right. You're confusing your numbers, and articles like this make you look uninformed at best.
Thanks Brad and Donald. Using the word "Delivery" would have been a fair way to say it. However, in the world of automotive commerce a sale is the event that happens when a buyer gives the car company or its authorized dealer the money (or a bank does as a finance arrangement), and the automaker then provides the customer with a vehicle. Automakers are very careful to report their sales each month (which are sometimes "sales to dealers" with a "time on the lot" figure). We did cover the pre-orders here at TN, and I did include a link to the story in this new one. Tesla is not the only company that allows customers to reserve and order vehicles. In fairness, it is one of the best at it. Ferrari is probably THE best. It frequently has all of its production spoken for before the cars are built. The sale occurs when the vehicle is transferred to the buyer and payment made. Let's all agree that if Tesla delivers several hundred Model X vehicles per week through year's end as Mr. Musk promised, this story will be a false alarm.
According to ModelXTracker.com, about 33'000 Model X reservations. Has not been updated in the last few months as Tesla no longer shows the sequence numbers, and this figure has most likely gone up. I have a Model X reservation since about a year. Yes, the wait is long and painful, and I keep reminding myself some have been waiting far longer than I. Model X is a plug-in replacement for my Q7. It offers more luggage space - enough for 6 people and dog, whereas the Q7 - I had to haul a trailer. Speed limits with a trailer are 33% lower in Switzerland - 80km/h is awfully slow when everyone drives 120km/h+. Fuel and maintenance costs savings of 5k$/year, super quiet ride, ecological, great performance, outstanding visibility Model X is a dream come true. Don't mind waiting, don't mind giving Tesla close to 150k$ for the privilege. Only investors and Tesla bashers are so uptight about a couple weeks delay. Hey guys, sustainable is the buzzword here - if Tesla is able to get it 100% right first time, fewer recalls, customer dissatisfaction, less rework and costs. Many other carmakers, and established ones too, are now coming up with competition. This says loads about Tesla's market disruption - they hit right in the sweet spot of the other guys' profit margin. The Model X will sell faster than Tesla can build them for years on end. And Model S keeps selling well to. I'm not even talking about Model 3, more affordable, smaller ? I'll have two, one for each of my kids.
Eric thank you for commenting. Did you already pay for your Model X? You mention giving Tesla $150K in the comment is why I ask.
I put up a $5k deposit. Would not tie up $40k for undetermined amount of time. $150k is what I expect, more or less full blown. Why Model X is a bargain: Full spec'd Q7 (V12TDI, 500HP) is 280k$ in my country. Insurance, fuel, taxes and maintenance will break the bank. Not so with Model X.
Thank you Eric. A deposit of about 5% seems very reasonable. If you end up getting a Model X and would like to have your account of it published here at Torque News please let us know. All you need to do is use the "Contact us" tab at the bottom of the site and we will e-mail you back. We were fortunate enough to have two early Model S owners agree to interviews and the stories were very popular. Cheers,
It appears that you are using old image of X - have Tesla not updated their press kit either?
Thanks for the heads up. I just switched the image to the white one with the falcon doors extended that Tesla uses on its current public page. Tesla does not have the typical press kit type support. The server will not show the new image for a while.
The launch and delivery of a couple of models a month or so ago seemed to be somewhat of a public relations and marketing scam. Especially with the one owner with a picture of a model X in his driveway and two model S's in his garage (like this is common place). Have heard that anyone that wants to order one now is looking at mid-2016, being very optimistic. What does Tesla do, change the model year to a 2017 then? What happens when you want to build a high volume unit, with this infastructure how do you service thousands of cars with no dealers. Are you going to have thousands of Rangers going to everyone's home? Won't happen, have to have a better infrastructure to service any massed produced (under $50K model). Look for a sale, or cooperative cross-over with some existing dealer network to service and sell a mass produced vehicle, won't happen with the infrastructure of the model S or X.
Esteban, have you driven a Tesla yet? any other EV? There are fundamental differences vs traditional cars which you must experience to fully appreciate. Silence, instant response, handling, energy efficiency, regenerative braking and ridiculously low operating expenses. Once you get hooked on to electric cars, nearly all combustion engine cars feel like remnants from the ICE age (pun intended) - wholly outdated. I am planning to be fully electric as soon as I can, also adding photovoltaic production at home. It's an ideological statement as well. I'm not surprised some wealthy people have multiple Teslas in their garages. There is no viable electric alternative yet. I test-drove Model S three times. I like the car but it's too conventional for me. Spot on choice by Tesla to gain marketshare though. I since purchased a second-hand Tesla Roadster Sport and commute to work in this great little unusual sports car that will leave any nearly any Porsche, Ferrari, or even Lamborghini behind at a traffic light. Tesla does not do model years. Continuous improvement is their strategy. The latest assembly line at Fremont can build either Model S or Model X. Model S production is now well-known, assembly and parts supply are straightforward, and there is high demand. I suspect Tesla is running both lines pumping out Model S at full speed to meet or beat the target figures published for Q4 2015. Building Model X in volume will necessarily ramp up slower, this would jeopardize the targets for this year. Yes, they made a few so far, full traction will be certainly be in Jan, or as soon as they are comfortable with the number of cars manufactured this quarter. As for the service and dealer network, electric cars require far less maintenance than ICE as there are fewer moving parts to wear out. Over-the-air updates and assistance helps, some work can be done by rangers, some work (i.e. bodywork, tire and brake pad replacement) can be subcontracted, and there now are service centers run by Tesla within reasonable distance of each other. I'm not worried about their ability to service Model 3.
There is a big silver lining to the Model 3 as well with regard to service visits. It will enable Tesla to use its own cars as service loaner cars all the time. Elon Musk promised this years ago, but Model S drivers have reported widely that they were offered rental ICE cars when they had to leave their Model S over night for service.
Dude. The tesla model X isn't out yet. It's out next year. That's for people who ordered early. Why are you putting something out there when you don't know all of the facts as to really why the sells have been low. If you read than you will know the tesla model X comes out early next year.
John, thank you for the article. I must admit that when i first read your article I did end with the feeling that there was no client interest in purchasing the Model X. I came to the understanding that only 15 people in 3 months wanted to purchase one. It was only after reading the comments that i realized that there was client interest but Tesla had only been able to deliver 15 Model X's. I know you linked to your previous article that covered the interest in pre-orders but re-stating that figure would definitely help clarify the current situation.
I think you're right and the others as well. Changes made. Thanks for your comment and for reading.
The title is indeed misleading and maliciously provocative. Probably intentional, as this draws more readers and gets more advertising revenue. Words are not harmless.
Well said Eric, and you are right. Title and also a couple other uses of the phrase were changed and will update when the server refreshes. Thanks
Hey John..Who pays you to write such garbage?
Like all on-line publications, it is the readership. Comments always help too. Thanks for both.
John is right and as always, Tesla's die-hard enthusiasts will take every opportunity to diminish anyone who speaks logically and authoritatively about this company. Good for you, John. "Failure to Launch" is an appropriate title since Tesla has missed multiple promised Model X production and delivery dates since 2013, just as it did earlier with the Tesla Roadster and Model S. Delivering only a dozen or so examples to great fanfare - at up to $144,000 each – is symbolic and does not constitute a new model launch in any real sense. It does represent a great media and investor opportunity, though. The Model X launch will occur when deliveries of these vehicles begin in earnest.
I have no issue - we can agree to disagree. The truth remains that there have been 15 or so real deliveries, which have been production constrained, not sales constrained as the original title was implying. While I am impatient to see Model X being produced in significant numbers, giving hope mine will be delivered soon, I also understand the interest to ramp up the car production in sync with the the Gigafactory coming online and churning out batteries in volume. A Model X made today with Panasonic cells shipped from Japan brings in substantially less profit than the exact same car made in a few months time. Delivering a few is not a problem, full ramp-up is most likely a waste of money at this time, assuming the suppliers were able to produce cells in sufficient quantity in the first place. Panasonic would not be expanding their Japanese battery production knowing the cells will be made in Nevada starting next year. Doubling car production needs twice as many cells - where would they come from? A Tesla is not like just any other car - it is revolutionary. I'm not surprised at the repeated delays and poor communication, frustrating as they may be.