Every deadline with Tesla seems stretched, revised, corrected, or “perhaps misunderstood.” The September launch of the Model X never really happened. Instead of a launch the company has substituted a prolonged trickle of extremely expensive versions of its gull-wing crossover/minivan. Unlike with the Model S and Model X, the new Model 3 is supposed to be more than just a trophy car for wealthy green shoppers. This is the one you might buy. Affordable, fast, long range, more reasonably sized and made in huge numbers with power supplies made at Tesla’s Gigafactory (currently under construction). Now comes word that “late 2017” will not apply to most interested buyers of the Model 3.
Here are the latest timeline updates. First, the car will be revealed in March. Of course, it will be the very last day in the month of March. And as far as we can tell, the car that is about to be shown in a week may not be a drivable, registerable, production car, but something somewhat less. A beta. Or a demonstration model of some sort. Don’t count on any firm specifications or details. We hope we are wrong.
Next, there is a new long list of who can and who cannot expect a new Model 3 this year or next. Decantering the information we have seen so far, we have come up with who might bless their driveway with a Model 3 by "late 2017." The buyer will be a super-fan who already owns a Model S. We know this because Tesla said today, “…existing customers will get priority.” That existing Tesla owner will also likely reside in California. We know this because Tesla said today, “…we will begin deliveries in North America starting on the West Coast, moving east.” That existing California owner of a Model S (or X) will also have some free time next Thursday. That’s because Tesla says “…to get a better spot in the queue, … visit your local Tesla store when it opens on March 31st.” Last, the owner of the new “affordable” Tesla will also spend heavily on this new vehicle. We are surmising this because Tesla has now established a road map of how it rolls out new products. Slowly, and also the company only builds fully-loaded, top-end versions to maximize profits. We applaud this normally, since Tesla has to date served only wealthy customers, but wasn’t this one supposed to be different?
Tesla is taking Ferrari’s lead on its approach to selling its cars. For many years, Ferrari only sold new models to existing customers. Tesla concludes its guidelines on who and who will not be able to get a Model 3 this year by saying bluntly “For those who aren’t Tesla owners yet, this means the fastest way to buy a Model 3 is to buy a Model X or Model S.” In other words, to get an affordable Model 3 spend about $80K- $135k on a Tesla plus another $60K or so on the Model 3. This is exactly what you were expecting, right?
Image of Model S by John Goreham