Is Tesla Rethinking Its Model 3 Reservation Strategy?

According to the Teslarati, Tesla may have changed course when it comes to accepting reservations for the Model 3. An e-mail went out to existing Tesla owners just a few days ago telling them that Tesla stores would not start accepting reservations until 10 am Pacific Time and that they would get priority in the reservation queue. Now, it seems that may have changed.

Tesla Model 3 info

Cesar Deschamps told Teslarati late on Tuesday, “I was told they will open here in Miami [Dania] Beach Store at 10 am to take reservations. They thought they would be opening at 1pm [ET] to coincide with California, but they confirmed that they heard this morning from Corporate that they will be processing reservations immediately upon opening.”

Not only that, but the priority Tesla thought it was going to give existing owners seems to have gone out the window, also. “I spoke to two people at the store together, at the same time. They said the info came from their briefing. One said that Elon got a lot of emails complaining about the owners getting preference. This was their way of placating owners whilst pushing loaded cars.”

What’s all the kerfuffle about? Basically, it comes down to this: The Model 3 is expected to blow away the competition in its price class. An electric car with 200 miles of range that costs just $35,000 and is a Tesla? Who wouldn’t want one of those? Production won’t even begin for 18 months — if it starts on time — and no one even knows what the car will look like yet. But that hasn’t prevented interest in being one of the first to own a Model 3 from rising to a fever pitch.

Then there is the money. Many observers think Tesla will be bumping up against the 200,000 car limit in total sales by the time the Model 3 hits the streets. That’s the point at which a manufacturer’s electric cars begin to lose their federal tax credit. If you want a Model 3 and the full $7,500 tax credit, you may need to get one of the first cars built. Since $7,500 is a fair chunk of change, that’s a powerful motivation for people interested in buying a Model 3 to shove their way to the front of the line if they possibly can.

Already, on the Tesla Motors Club blog and Google Docs, people are talking about when they plan to start camping out in front of their local Tesla store in order to be first in the door on the morning of March 31. Some are predicting the company will take 100,000 reservations in the first 24 hours. Things could get ugly. This may turn out to be like the hordes outside of Walmart on Black Friday, champing at the bit to get in.

So here’s how it’s going to work: First and foremost, the most expensive cars are going to get built first. That is standard procedure with Tesla. If someone in Portland, Maine, is the first in the US to reserve a car but decides to order an entry-level model, while someone in Portland, Oregon, strolls in to reserve a car three days later but ticks every box on the order form when it comes time configure the car for production, the Oregonian will be driving his or her Model 3 long before the Mainiac.

Deschamps explains it further: “Each region in the country will have their own queue and yes owners will receive priority first, but only after optioned cars first. In other words, the optioned cars are grouped first (highest will be delivered first) but inside this sub-list owners will get theirs first. So, it will be possible to get my car before an owner if my car has more options and a higher list[price].”

Keep in mind that the car will not even be revealed to the public for the first time until the evening of March 31. All this excitement is over a car no one has ever seen. The guess is that there will be more people watching the live video stream from the unveiling party than watched Neil Armstrong take that giant step for mankind in 1969. I know I will be one of them!

Photo Credit: Tesla Motors

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.