The Wall Street Journal reports that if you order a Model S P85D today, you could be driving it in less than 3 weeks. That’s because Tesla is pushing the $105,000, range topping cars out the door as fast as possible. Why do the fastest cars have the fastest build times? WSJ speculates that it could be because Tesla needs to generate some cash flow to offset all the money it is spending on the Gigafactory, fine tuning the Model X, designing the Model III, and/or building out its network of Supercharger stations.
In fact, investors are a bit nervous about how much money is flowing out of Tesla headquarters these days, which is the primary reason Tesla stock is down 14% from the start of the year. Some observers also worry that the backlog of orders for Tesla’s most profitable car may not be as large as originally thought. When the P85D dual motor model was first introduced, waiting times of 3 months or more were common. Delivery times for the standard Model S 85 and Model S 60, which are presumably less profitable, remain at about 2 to 3 months.
Credit Suisse automotive analyst Dan Galves has picked up on a bit of news that no one else seems to have noticed. Previously, Tesla has only counted cars in transit to customers as “finished goods.” But in a filing with the SEC in February, it changed that definition to include all cars available for immediate sale. Is that change significant?
Some observers think it could be a sign that Tesla is thinking about stocking some cars as inventory at company sales locations, which would be a significant change from its current “build to order” business model. This move could be connected to Tesla’s ongoing tussle with various state legislatures over dealer franchise laws. Just last week, it suggested to lawmakers in Connecticut that it would be comfortable with a policy allowing it to open a maximum of five stores within the state. Are Tesla dealerships about to happen?
The fact that Tesla guards its financial information so closely leads to such speculation, whether there is a basis for it or not. The company reports is sales figures only every three months whereas most other manufacturers do so monthly. Whatever Elon Musk has up his sleeve, we won’t know about it until he decides to Tweet about it.